I believe there’s a truism in acquisition: the work’s not done until the paperwork is finished. How many of you have tried to get an acquisition through the approval process only to be stymied because some of the critical Acquisition Documentation was not up to date or was missing completely?
As one who teaches acquisition and program management, I continually try to instill in the students an appreciation for the value of the acquisition documentation. However, regardless of the examples of problems that I give them, some think they can get by without doing it right. I say they should think again.
An Alternative Approach
One Government agency that I work with attempts to solve the problem by mandating the maximum time to complete each step in the process of preparing, reviewing, and approving the document. Once you receive initial approval to proceed with the acquisition, you have “X” days to get the various required documents approved. For example: After the Acquisition Strategy is approved, you have 70 days to get your Acquisition Plan approved. Interim milestones include first draft by Day 30, internal reviews done by Day 45, revisions completed by Day 60, and final approval by Day 70.
Will It Work?
The schedule I’m describing hasn’t been in place long enough to show measureable results. I think it allows enough time for each of the activities, but I see a few potential roadblocks:
Most agencies have written policy that states that the Acquisition Plan must be approved before the Request for Proposal (RFP) is released. Yet, RFPs have been issued and even some contract awards have been made without an approved Acquisition Plan. I asked three former contracting officers who each said that if the procurement was for mission critical goods or services, it would proceed regardless of the state of the acquisition documentation.
That brings me to my final roadblock:
Each person in a program management office must understand that documentation is more than a necessary evil. Program Managers can set the tone:
What Would You Do?
If it were up to you, how would you get the acquisition community to pay attention to required acquisition documentation?
Donald Freedman article republished from Integrity Matters acquisition and program management blog.