by Chris Wiedemann, Analyst
Speaking at an AFCEA Bethesda breakfast panel on shared services and strategic sourcing this morning, Lisa Wilusz, Director of USDA’s Office of Procurement and Property Management, identified a glaring lack in the Department’s efforts to streamline procurement for commodity products: they don’t know what they already have. Without getting into too many specifics, she mentioned a medium-sized USDA subagency that had hundreds, if not thousands, of duplicative purchasing agreements in place for wireless equipment – in fact, consolidating all those agreements down is one of the signature accomplishments of the strategic sourcing initiative in the Department.
While achieving that type of consolidation is a feel-good story for agency personnel, it points to a fairly glaring weakness: USDA’s procurement staff is lacking some of the basic data points that would make their jobs easier. For example, Wilusz specifically mentioned not knowing how many software licenses the Department holds, or whether they could avoid buying software that they already have. All of this translates to opportunity for IT product vendors with business intelligence or asset visibility tools to sell.