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6 ways feds can improve IT acquisition and access

A group of federal contracting advocates teamed up to analyze how to improve the government acquisition process, particularly around government/contractor relations.

The team — comprised of the Professional Services Council (PSC), the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) and the California Technology Council (CTC) — came up with six "guiding principles" that will make it easier for government to buy IT and help new and smaller companies break into federal contracting.

Download: Delivering Results: A Framework for Federal Government Technology Access and Acquisition

"Our message is simple: Government must remove the high hurdles to participation and innovation for all so that firms from across the nation can compete on a level playing field," said Dave Wennergren, PSC executive vice president. "That we have come together around this set of overarching principles sends a strong signal that the government is constrained by how they ask for technology solutions, not who they ask."

From the report:

1. A Common Goal — The Common Good

The private sector is united in its efforts to help the federal government deliver more effective mission results for the citizens of our nation.

2. Competition and innovation

We must identify and mitigate or remove barriers to participation by all providers, regardless of whether they choose to approach the government directly or through teaming and subcontracting relationships. No matter where one sits in the market, the same core business principles and requirements exist.

Collaboration must become a central component of government operations — working toward a common set of goals and measures. Continuous and open communication between government and industry to ensure optimal outcomes are achieved is crucial.

4. Contracting flexibility

Federal contracting approaches must facilitate the rapid insertion of new technology and alternative approaches. Government must take advantage of current flexibilities in the federal acquisition regulation.

5. Risks and rewards

A clear understanding of responsibility, accountability, collective risk management and rewards for both government and industry will help to ensure success.

A well-trained, experienced, skilled and supported federal acquisition workforce is necessary to achieve successful outcomes.

"The technology frontier is, at times, so far ahead of the acquisition frontier that we'll need new flexibility and collaboration built in if we expect government to keep up," CTC CEO Matt Gardner said. "Whether that means collaboration on test beds and demonstration projects or increasing flexibility in technical requirements, this report — and our combined efforts — highlight an 'all-of-the-above' approach."

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