The General Services Administration is adopting an agile and iterative approach to creating a governmentwide marketplace that will ultimately improve federal buying across civilian and defense agencies, according to GSA and DoD officials speaking at an ACT-IAC meeting.

GSA is working with other agencies to construct a Government Acquisition Marketplace that will result in cost savings, reduced duplication of acquisition programs and better procurement decisions. A Common Acquisition Platform (CAP) and category management are key supporting initiatives central to the creation of the marketplace.

CAP is a digital portal being created by the GSA that allows agency customers to search contract vehicles, compare prices on various contracts, and connect easily with other federal procurement experts. CAP provides category management hallways, a centralized repository of category-specific data and expertise that program and procurement users across the government can access when they get involved in acquisition. The sites are organized into product and services categories and curated by agency category managers.


Big changes may be awaiting GSA's schedules program

Anne Rung: Simplifying contracting is job one

Administration developing new procurement tools, methods

"We will tackle this in stages and waves and we are stealing some agile concepts from IT development. We want the category management to be an agile management process," said Kevin Youel Page, the assistant commissioner of GSA's Integrated Award Environment, during a panel November 19 on evolving government acquisitions held by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council.

Agile software development consists of a group of software development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.

Some of the categories that are further along are IT hardware and software, office supplies and some of the well-understood strategic source categories acquisition teams have worked on so far. "We've worked to take the good work teams have done over the years and put them on display in category hallways." The hallways are not a way to do category management, but rather encompasses all of the best practices done already on strategic source events, market understanding and customers' needs aligned in a common place for the federal user, he said.

"A major responsibility of the category manager is going to be to understand the market place with market intelligence and understand and influence demand management," said Kenneth Brennan, the deputy director for services acquisition in the office of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy. For example, U.S. Transportation Command has a huge amount of next day air service for parts. When TRANSOM officials looked at that demand, they found a huge part was only being used to mitigate risk of a delayed delivery. Parts and supplies were actually due a week later, but people were overpaying to get things there the next day so they could sleep calmly knowing that the parts would be there when they needed them. So providing the tools as well as understanding the demand is also the responsibility of the category manager, Brennan said.

According to Lesley Field, deputy administrator with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, currently there are about 12 super categories within the category management program. For IT, in particular, there are a lot of sub-components such as hardware, software and cloud services. "We are getting smarter on the sub-categories," Field said. "It is a work in progress." GSA is looking at better ways agencies can effectively use the $270 billion in common spending across the government, she noted.

"We're also not trying to create artificial boundaries and force things into categories," said Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of the integrated technology service office with GSA's Federal Acquisition Service. The GSA has done a lot of work to analyze the federal buying spend so far and figure how to bucket things in the right way, Davie said. Ultimately the acquisition marketplace should allow for flexibility for the actual buyer, especially as acquisitions morph from equipment to services, the officials said.

In Other News
Load More