VA Transforming Perceptions, Using Innovation to Improve Acquisitions

2011 VA Supplier Relationship Transformation Webinar

On February 25, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hosted its second Supplier Relationship Transformation (SRT) webinar. 934 discreet users registered to watch senior VA officials report summary findings from the department’s recent feedback collection efforts. VA Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould, Office of Acquisition and Logistics (OAL) Deputy Assistant Secretary Jan Frye, National Acquisition Center (NAC) Executive Director Craig Robinson, VA Acquisition Academy (VAAA) Chancellor Lisa Doyle, and Deputy Director for Veterans Enterprise Gail Wegner were on hand to address feedback from suppliers about what is and is not working with VA’s acquisition and procurement processes. The presentations were followed by a real-time Q&A session, allowing users to inquire about particular areas of interest and express their concerns.

The webinar covered a wide range of acquisitions-related topics. Deputy Secretary Gould highlighted VA’s increased commitment to innovation, notably VAI2. This ongoing program solicits the best ideas for innovations (both inside and outside the government) to advance VA’s ability to meet the challenges of becoming a 21st-century organization. Deputy Assistant Secretary Frye followed with updates on the “Voice of the Customer” Initiatives, the Regional and Federal Supply Schedule Forums, and the Supplier Perception Survey. These activities gave VA the chance to hear directly from suppliers, many of whom expressed that VA needs to improve its communications and customer service.

NAC Executive Director Robinson presented short-, mid- and long-term acquisition improvement actions that address this feedback. Among them are the immediate assessment of work flow that may negatively affect processing time, the establishment of relationships with industry groups (to enhance communications), and the reintegration of firm assignments between contract specialists and FSS vendors. Chancellor Doyle also addressed how VA is responding to supplier feedback, particularly the academy’s plan to add new acquisitions officers and prepare them through its five specialized schools. Deputy Director Wegner rounded out the speakers with an update on Small Business items, notably the Verification for VA Contract Award regulation, effective as of January 1, 2012. OALC Portfolio Manager Daniel Coakley then facilitated a Q&A session featuring questions covering topics ranging from VAI2 to Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiatives (FSSI) to FOB origin.

“Twenty-five years ago, when I started out with Department of Defense, many viewed suppliers as the enemy,” joked Assistant Deputy Secretary Frye during the Q&A session. “I’m glad this perception has changed, and suppliers today are increasingly being consulted on a wide range of contracting and acquisitions issues.”

For more information on the 2011 VA Supplier Relationship Transformation webinar, including streamed audio and video of the event, go to the SRT’s Webinar site.

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