WASHINGTON — The Defense Health Agency and other Pentagon offices are among the worst in government at supplying companies with information they need to bid on federal contracts, according to the Professional Services Council.
Of the 27 federal agencies graded as “needs improvement,” this year, about a third are housed in the Navy, Defense Department and Army. The Defense Health Agency slipped to “needs improvement” from “fair” in the latest Federal Business Forecast Scorecard, produced annually by PSC and released this month.
“DHA is committed to and passionate about serving our warfighters and our 9.6 million TRICARE beneficiaries through responsible stewardship of tax payer dollars,” a DHA spokesperson said in an email. “By providing insights through DHA industry days and communication of Agency forecasts, DHA strives to achieve the best possible contracting outcomes and effective solutions to future health and readiness challenges of the Military Health System.”
The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency did not improve from last year’s rank. The Navy’s Military Sealift Command also wound up in the bottom category.
“DISA continues to implement recommendations to enhance our procurement forecasts for current and potential industry partners,” a spokesperson for the Defense Information Systems Agency said.
The trade group for federal contractors graded 62 agencies and subagencies across government on their procurement forecasts, which include timelines, estimates and other details needed to bid on contracts. The U.S. government spends more than $600 billion on good and services each year, much of it on defense.
“Well-articulated, sufficiently detailed forecasts lead to better proposals, improved competition and shorter award decision timelines,” Stephanie Kostro, PSC’s executive vice president for policy, said in a statement.
The scorecard, created in 2019, evaluates the content federal agencies provide in procurement forecasts to businesses. They offer a glimpse at opportunities by listing information that gives companies an idea of what resources they need to pursue a business opportunity with the government.
Not all defense office forecasts are hard to access. Two won “honorable mentions” in the PSC ranking. Marine Corps Systems Command failed to give a forecast in 2021 but received a “fair” rating for improving its public information this year.
Naval Information Warfare Systems Command has maintained a consistent “good” rating — the top category — since 2019.
“While certain restrictions can prevent Department of Defense offices from making publicly available a fully populated forecast, NAVWAR stands out as a top component,” according to the scorecard.
Forecasts were missing from some defense and military agencies, including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as well as the Missile Defense and Defense Logistics agencies.
Outside of the Pentagon, the General Services Administration received the highest score of any agency in the report for consistently updating opportunities and populating useful information to support companies’ decision-making. The GSA helps manage and support other federal agencies.
The White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the GSA, “has emphasized the importance of good procurement forecasts as a key component of strengthening the diversity and resilience of the federal marketplace,” said Lesley Field, acting administrator for federal procurement policy at OMB.
The acquisition ecosystem, from those who award contracts to the businesses seeking them, is vast. One in every $10 of federal spending goes to contractors. Nearly 40,000 officers shepherd dollars through the 5 million contracts awarded last year.
Overall, two more agencies received “good” rankings in 2022 compared to 2021, while a dozen offices received a “fair” ranking, up from nine.
Last year’s top marks were awarded to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which received the first-ever perfect score.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.