NextGen Break-Out Session# 2: All About Acquisitions
- Jennifer Hesch, Attorney
- Susan Minson, Procurement Policy Analyst
(Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President)
Getting into government can seem like a daunting task. USAJobs, unfamiliar lingo, and countless acronyms are enough to scare away any newcomer. Like many areas of government, Acquisitions is one of those areas that is often shrouded in mystery. Even to the most seasoned Government Rock Stars are often unsure of what Acquisitions actually is, and what it includes.Well, fear no more, government novices! Luckily, during our second Break-Out session at NextGen, Jennifer Hesch and Susan Minson help navigate us through the world of acquisitions, a promising area of job growth.
What is Acquisitions?
Acquisitions includes the process of procuring goods and services for the government by evaluating and establishing contracts with vendors.
The strategy for the last couple of years has been to focus on “smarter buying and strengthen[ing] the Acquisitions System”. This is done by looking at Government as a whole instead of focusing on single, separate agencies. Memorandums issued by President Obama have called for more transparency in government and in acquisitions, so the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Office of Management and Budget can see what each agency is spending on items and services such as office supplies, food, and now, IT. The goal is to get the best price for the best vendor and use that contract government-wide scale.
Tips for Working in Acquisitions
1. Consult Your Resources
Before getting in deep with acquisitions, it’s important to become familiar with both the FAR (Federal Acquisitions Regulations) and your agency’s FAR supplement. There are also many recent Presidential Memorandums that are important to consult.
2. Get Involved Early
When working with finding services and establishing contracts, it’s best to get everyone involved early. Contracting Officers, policy analysts, contractors, and stakeholders alike should start market research early to ensure the bed vendor is awarded the contract. Attorneys should be brought on board early too to ensure everything goes smoothly, and to fix potential issues before they happen.
3. Prepare for Reward Protests
Vendors often will protest against the contract award decision. Before meeting in person with the vendor, it is best to get attorney’s on board and to do a dry run of the protest meeting. This way you can insure a positive outcome and will be less likely to delay the contract your agency intended to sign.
Why It’s a Great Field
According to Jennifer and Susan, Acquisitions is a great place to learn and grow as a government employee.
1. It includes many different roles that range from Contract Officers, to Policy Analysts, to Attorneys and more. It provides the opportunity to learn many different skills and grow as a government employ.
2. Many Acquisitions employees in various agencies are set to retire in the next few years. It’s the perfect time to step in and become a part of the next generation!
3. Because of the various roles and the future availability of positions, there are many opportunities for lateral and upward movement.
4. They’re looking for talented employees. Jennifer says, “If you like IT and Acquisitions, you’re set for life,” so if you’re looking for a field to stretch your wings with IT, this might be the place to do it.
There was much more to this excellent break-out session that we couldn’t fit in here. If you want to know more about Acquisitions, check out more Govloop posts with that tag! Also, don’t forget to follow our NextGen posts!
More information on NextGen
Today GovLoop and Young Government Leaders are hosting their annual Next Generation of Government Leaders Summit. Throughout the summit, be sure to check GovLoop and our social media sites to keep up with all the latest from the summit. We’re really excited about this year – and hope to share the experience with all of you.
If you’re unfamiliar with NextGen, the annual training summit educates, inspires and promotes innovation for new and rising leaders in government. Since 2010, the two-day summit has enhanced the professional and personal lives of 2,000+ Generation X and Y government employees, who are excited to learn new skills to innovate.