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Aligning Acquisition with Administration Priorities

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The Biden-Harris Management Agenda laid out the three main focus areas the administration wanted to move the needle on during its term. The overall focus on empowering employees, improving customer experience, and improving the business of government has been moving forward through a variety of executive orders and mandates. While “improving the business of government” seems to be the most applicable area to acquisition and procurement, changes to how the government acquires goods and services are having an impact across all three focus areas.

Citizen Service Powered by the Cloud

Cloud computing and the applications it enables allows citizens (and employees) to access government systems and services when and where they want. Online submission forms, chat bots, and self-service features are enabled by cloud technologies. The FedRAMP program, in place since 2011, has served to ensure that cloud technology deployed in government meets key security parameters. The latest authorization bill governing FedRAMP adds a 15-member Federal Secure Cloud Advisory Committee to look at ways to improve the FedRAMP authorization processes and to further ease the procurement and use of the cloud.

Equitable Contracting

Acquisition changes are allowing the government easier access to the pricing and ubiquity of large commercial providers as well as the innovation and agility of small businesses. The General Services Administration (GSA) is looking to scale up a program that allows government buyers to make small purchases (up to $10,000) directly (without having to draw up a contract) with purchase cards on commercial sites like Amazon and Overstock. The response to a pilot program that encompassed 40,000 participants across 25 federal agencies was overwhelmingly positive for both buyers and the government. Use of the program could expand in 2023.

A focus of “improving the business of government” is to make it easier for small, U.S.-based businesses to compete for and win government work. The Professional Services Council (PSC) found that agencies are beginning to ramp up their use of blanket purchase agreements, indefinite delivery, and indefinite quantity contracts to aid in getting small businesses into the government more quickly. This is a shift from the recent trend of using “best-in-class” contract vehicles that reduce duplication of effort but tend to favor large, established businesses.

Sustainable Contracting

The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council has a proposal to require government suppliers to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions and develop goals to reduce them. This data would be used as part of the evaluation for federal contracts. One rationale behind this is to encourage more sustainable practices to reduce the impacts of climate change, which is responsible for the huge growth of natural disasters. The average number of major and catastrophic disaster declarations has more than doubled from 22 annually between 1953 and 1989 to 52 per year since 1990. This impacts federal spending for disaster aid—more than $120 billion per year.

People Focus

The White House is planning on requiring agencies to designate labor advisors who will “promote greater awareness” of labor law requirements among their agency’s acquisition workforce, develop training on labor law with the Labor Department, as well as liaise with federal enforcement agencies. This oversight would extend to the staff of contractors as well, to ensure that private companies serving the government comply with the same labor practices as the government.

GovWhitePapers and GovEvents have a number of resources to help you stay on top of acquisition reforms and changes. 

  • Streamlining Government Procurement with a Modern Acquisition Management Solution (eBook) –  Organizations that rely on outdated, siloed technology to manage procurement processes face challenges imposed by disjointed applications including wasted resources, delays in procurement, and lack of collaboration. This eBook discusses the current state of outdated acquisition technology, its impact on government, and the benefits of a modern acquisition solution.
  • Leading Practices: Agency Acquisition Policies Could Better Implement Key Product Development Principle (white paper) – This report examines principles that guide leading companies’ product development efforts. GAO identified the 13 leading product development companies based on rankings in well-recognized lists; interviewed company representatives; analyzed department-wide acquisition policies from DOD, DHS, and NASA; and interviewed agency officials.
  • Digitizing Federal Procurement (white paper) – The ability of the United States Government to rapidly navigate the procurement process is essential to mission success and national prosperity. Unfortunately, the procurement process can take so long that contracts are often overcome by events before completion. This paper discusses how agencies can streamline procurement through built-for-purpose technology solutions.
  • FAR Week Orlando (March 27-31, 2023; Orlando, FL) – The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) directly affects over $1 trillion in federal and state acquisitions each year. This critically important regulation is complex and continually changing. The courses offered during this FAR Week give a solid, practical understanding of the Federal Acquisition Regulation so that you can comply with the complex requirements and avoid pitfalls by anticipating and resolving potential problems.
  • Just Economy Conference (March 29-30, 2023; Washington, DC) – This event for community, business, foundation, policy, and government leaders will discuss how our nation can not only promise but deliver opportunities for all Americans to build wealth and live well. National and local luminaries, visionaries and change makers gather to network, share ideas, learn and ask hard questions to chart out a better future.
  • PSC Annual Conference (April 16-19, 2023; White Sulphur Springs, WV) – Government and industry leaders address current issues facing the government professional and technology services industries. Gain actionable insights over two-and-a-half days of networking and informational sessions.

Check out GovWhitePapers and GovEvents for more information on the current and proposed acquisition reforms.


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