There has been flood of memos and guidance on procurement reform coming out of the White House and OMB in recent months. But an open call for ideas was launched earlier this month via a collaborative project being undertaken by the General Service Administration, the National Academy of Public Administration, and a joint government/industry group called the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council.
This new initiative is called the “Better Buy Project” and it was launched via a website that uses a series of on-line forums to gain insight and ideas.
According to the website: “The Better Buy Project is an experiment dedicated to the belief that there’s a lot of room for improvement in the way government buys products and services. We’re testing this hypothesis by asking for your ideas on how to make acquisition process more open, transparent and collaborative.” They plan to do this around the three initial phases of the contracting cycle:
- Market Research and Requirements Definition Phase—Includes publicizing agency needs and requirements, and refining them based on further input and research about current capabilities.
- Pre-Solicitation Phase—Includes web-based research, discussions with other federal agencies, meetings and open discussion forums with the private sector to discuss potential solutions, and requests for information soliciting input and ideas. The requirements are also further refined at this stage in the process.
- Solicitation Phase—Includes the government notifying the private sector of the requirement through various channels such as E-Buy and FedBizOpps, holding open forums to discuss the requirement and answer questions (e.g., Industry Days), a review of the solicitation by interested companies, the written exchange between government and the private sector of questions, answers and clarifications on government requirements, and proposal submissions.
The sponsors are looking for feedback that makes the system more open, transparent, and collaborative. Visitors to the site can offer ideas and comments, or can vote for other ideas (and you are limited to a total of 20 votes in each phase, so use them judiciously!). So far, two weeks into the effort, there are about 30 ideas/topic threads and a handful of comments and votes. Where is the contracting community when you need them? Probably recovering from the traditional end-of-the-fiscal year buying rush!