Who Is Your CAO, and What Do They Do?

According to a July 26 report (.pdf) by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), numerous deficiencies with the position Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO) exist, a rule resulting from the 2003 Services Acquisition Reform Act (Pub. L. No. 108-136). The 2003 law required 16 agencies to appoint CAOs to help assure management and oversight of acquisition activities in line with agency missions.

According to the report, “few CAOs have acquisition management as their primary duty” and are instead focused on financial, information and human capital management.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) concurred, citing that the agencies need to work with the CAO Council on creating guidance to ensure “that CAO roles and responsibilities are more clearly defined in accordance with law and regulations, tailored to suit the agency’s acquisition activities, and documented as appropriate.”


  1. Do you even know who your CAO is, if you have one?
  2. What do you think they do?
  3. What do you think they should be doing to improve the acquisition mission at your agency?

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Karen "Kari" Uhlman

The “Chief Acquisition Officer” for the County of Sacramento, Department of Waste Management & Recycling is actually a Waste Management Program Manager. Here is a description of his/her role:

The Waste Management Program Manager is a management level class which oversees the solid waste planning program, the department’s external relations and/or business development function, the recycling program, and/or the hazardous waste and hazardous material management program. Incumbents in this management class perform a variety of managerial, supervisory, and staff operational tasks related to solid and/or liquid non-hazardous and/or hazardous waste and hazardous materials management which may include program development, contract development and negotiations, planning, education, control, commercial waste control, safety, resource recovery, reduction, and diversion; procurement of waste management services; waste program and facility development; inter-jurisdictional relations; contract administration; grant administration; and environmental protection of disposal and/or other waste facilities.

The external relations function involves the department’s participation in a variety of community events and the publication of various brochures, news articles, etc. that publicize and inform the public about waste management projects, programs, etc. This function also includes the coordination of program planning and facility development activities with other jurisdictions, governmental agencies and private companies concerned with waste management issues.

And what do I think they should be doing to improve the acquisition mission within our department?

Maybe start with a brainstorming session, among the stakeholders, to find out what works well within our current system and what stakeholders would like to see more or less of?