Memo on CAOs addresses weaknesses

Despite years of effort, agencies are still not using the chief acquisition officer role well, according to an audit. The head of the government's procurement policy agency seeks to change that.

Joe Jordan

Joe Jordan seeks to clarify the place of the chief acquisition officer within federal agencies.

Joe Jordan, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, issued a memo Oct. 18 to clarify roles of the chief acquisition officer, but an expert said that it offers little new.

Jordan issued the memo as a follow-up to a Government Accountability Office report from July. GAO found many departments do not have documents defining the CAO’s duties. As a result they may lack a strong basis for more permanently including the CAO within their organizational leadership structure, GAO concluded. In addition, the amount of detail on an agency’s CAO’s authorities and responsibilities varies greatly based on the agency’s Federal Acquisition Regulation supplement and other policy documentation.


Resources:

Read Joe Jordan's memo here

Read the GAO report

In the memo, Jordan wrote that CAOs should work closely with their senior procurement executives (SPEs) on four areas:

  • Buying smarter, such as using governmentwide strategic sourcing contracts and reducing duplicative contracts.
  • Strengthening the acquisition workforce to have buyers who can define a contract’s requirements, negotiate well, and manage contracts after awarding them. Furthermore, CAO and SPEs should work with the chief human capital officer and principal program managers to create annual Acquisition Human Capital Plans.
  • Building the right supplier relationships to have a strong, ethical and dynamic industrial base. CAOs need to improve past performance assessments and increase the transparency of contractor business integrity data so the agency works with reputable firms, Jordan wrote. They also need to pay attention to small businesses.
  • Advancing mission performance by working closely with chief operating officers, performance improvement officers and program managers, who depend heavily on acquisition, to align acquisition goals with the agency’s mission.

Jordan also wrote that agencies should update their internal management policies to clearly define CAO and SPE roles and responsibilities.

Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, said the four themes Jordan listed in the memo are nothing more than what the Obama administration has been saying since 2009. Dan Gordon, Jordan’s predecessor at OFPP, focused on similar themes.

Overall, “it won’t have a big impact on day-to-day operations,” Allen said.

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