GSA, IT industry discuss building a better acquisition process
By Tony Ware
Spotlight Feature on Mary Davie, Associate Commissioner for Assisted Acquisition at GSA. Friday, April 20, 2007. (James J. Lee / Federal Times)
The government’s information technology acquisition process can be improved by an emphasis on clear communications, statements of objectives, historical and shared data, plus mechanisms and incentives to improve efficiency, according to a recent entry on the General Services Administration’s "Great Government through Technology" blog.
The potential benefits of increased accessibility, e-tools, toning down the issuance of capabilities RFIs, combating schedule slips and procurement delays, and finding ways to decrease protests were just some of the takeaways made following a conversation between federal IT services partners and Mary Davie, assistant commissioner for the Office of Information Technology Category in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.
Among the valuable government contracting resources cited in the meeting were interact.gsa.gov, GSA’s Alliant program, the Acquisition Gateway and FEDSIM. Tools like Interact allow the sharing of information online and let government and industry respond and ask questions. However, there was a feeling expressed that more could be done to establish relationships and regular forums for communication with industry partners and potential partners.
It was pointed out that smaller requirements often see less competition and innovation because the government structure requires the same level of effort from industry to bid, so the tendency is for industry to spend their efforts on bidding larger opportunities. And the current glut of RFI requests is costly, time-consuming and needs streamlining when government is using existing contracts or capable of using the same information for multiple contracts.
Also, there could be better systems for evaluating past performance of contractors, as well as provided estimated costs the government is willing to spend to do a job; clearer requirements give industry a better idea of what the government seeks and how to achieve best value.
Finally, the topic of protests brought up the concept of something like a protest bond or fee that a company would have to pay if they lost a protest, providing a deterrent to any protests that were not charging substantive deficiencies or issues.
"I don’t think much of what came up in our discussion was a surprise to anyone; however, I truly appreciated industry’s candor and how they gave us an opportunity to share and learn from this feedback," said Davie. "Both government and industry have responsibilities in federal acquisition, both parties can make improvements. Small changes can have big impact."