In order to bring some order to the chaos of the federal Government contractor space, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), newly headed by Anne Rung, is making a renewed effort to cut costs by way of increased collaboration and cooperation within agencies, improved electronic tools, and a reintroduced effort toward retaining exemplary acquisition professionals.

The OFPP has been setting the example of inter-agency cooperation by working in lockstep with the General Services Administration, or GSA.  Recently appointed OFPP administrator Anne Rung, formerly of the GSA itself, reinforced this at a recent contractors gathering.  Rung encourages a similar spirit of cooperation between agencies and vendors, urging open and honest dialog without the fear of broaching the Federal Acquisition Regulation’s protections against favoritism. Strong dialog and open communication between agencies and acquisition professionals facilitates a strong present and future relationship and should never be discouraged.  Indeed, a high level of open and honest dialog harms no one in the new cooperative environment.

In particular, Rung endorsed the GSA’s sweeping Common Acquisition Platform, or CAP, reform, calling for a high-level reorganization of procurement that adheres to the broad new categories seen in the three “hallways” of the CAP- technology, office supplies, and administrative support. The vision of the CAP approach is to virtually walk through a digital gateway, choose a broad-based category, and then proceed down a “hallway” that guides the prospective buyer through a virtual corridor offering a variety of helpful tips designed to narrow down the search for the exact product being sought. This innovative approach is designed to lead the buyer to the most optimal acquisition solution using fewer resources.

This type of virtual environment demands a technological upgrade that may require the greatest amount of heavy lifting.  The Obama Administration has been pushing to upgrade the Government’s IT potential by recruiting top end information technology talent. The ambitious 18F initiative, for example, a technology-based organization within GSA, demonstrates that these lofty goals are not just words, but are being put into action rapidly.  This is certainly promising news for both GSA and OFPP as they look to simplifying the acquisition process with a digital toolbox.

Rung is aware that in order to maintain excellence in acquisition professionals, one must depart from the “revolving door” culture that plagues so many industries today, including acquisition.  This “Human Capital Flight,” or frequent departure of the most capable talent, tends to occur when an employee feels that his or her personal and/or professional goals are not being met in the current professional environment.  The OFPP is aware and open to exploring provocative new options designed to directly attract greater commitment to federal opportunity.  Some of these options may include offering increased pay that will rival that of the private sector, credit for undergraduate courses, and training at the GSA’s Federal Acquisition Institute.

To truly make a difference in streamlining the procurement process to meet the missions of agencies seeking goods and services, all three elements of communication, technology, and retention must be clicking as one.  The OFPP under the leadership of Anne Rung seems well prepared to take action to ensure that none of these components are neglected or left behind.

Sources: White House, GSAblogs, GovExec

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