Wiki support from the top

(cross posted on CG-LIMS Project Blog in Intelink-U)

Support from the top of the DHS Procurement organization that is. Today’s post will be a repeat for some of you who heard this at the last staff meeting, but it’s important enough that I want to make sure everyone gets the message.

Short version:

The new DHS Chief Procurement Officer, Mr. Nick Nayak heard how we’re opening up communications with industry by posting requirements documents early in the process on FedBizOpps, using a blog to keep all stakeholders informed, and using the wiki hosted on GSA’s citizen.apps.gov platform to give everyone information on what we’re thinking and solicit industry ideas as we form an acquisition strategy. He’s very interested in understanding what we’re doing with an eye toward customers of procurement and industry to communicate about requirements openly well before a requirement is written.

This is a wonderful thing. I think it’s the right direction for government to move for major system acquisitions. And I thank the folks who were willing to weight the cost / benefit and take reasonable risks to take this approach. I think it will ultimately result in a better system fielded more quickly.

Longer version:

I met very briefly with the Coast Guard Senior Procurement Executive and Head of Contracting Activity (HCA) last week to fill her in on the details of what we’re doing and why. I stressed to her and I reiterate to all of you how indebted I am to Mary Davie and Chris Hamm at GSA for sparking the thought to approach this acquisition as transparently as possible. I’m also indebted to the the Intelink community for providing the tools and culture needed to move to a “need to share” posture for this acquisition. As I’ve told many of you privately, I think this is a much better way to serve the taxpayer and to serve the people who will rely on CG-LIMS every day to support mission performance.

Here are the notes I shared with a few folks as a recap of the meeting with the HCA. Some of you have seen them via e-mail, but you all know how much I hate having stuff go to e-mail to die. So here’s the recap:

  • I brought HCA copy of home page and FAQ page:
  • I talked through the reasons we’re doing it.
  • I explained how we’ve received useful insights from industry.
  • I explained how they’re using it to share either with name or anonymously by sending to me and having me post.
  • On FAQ page I pointed out link to GSA’s BetterBuy project that was my inspiration.
  • Explained how GSA had used similar wiki for collaboration on RFP for what became their award for Google apps in a very short timeline.
  • Told her CG-93 had received favorable comments from industry on degree of openness.
  • She said Mr. Nayak may want to discuss more. Explained that he would value a discussion like we just had. Told her Contracting Officer and I would be glad to do that.
  • I explained how we’re using GSA’s platform for this… only cost to us was the ~10 hours of initial setup time for me.
  • She asked about future use. Told here we’re taking it a step at a time. GSA is using an environment like this for RFI / RFP. We’re not there yet, but are watching what they’re doing.
  • By doing this experiment openly, everyone can watch, learn, and help figure out best approach to doing this kind of work as transparently and collaboratively as possible.
  • On the FAQ page, I circled the link to https://betterbuy.fas.gsa.gov/ to see what GSA is doing.
  • I explained how the blog evolved from an “inside the firewall” blog on Intelink to now a weekly dump to WordPress to make sure access to any of those insight is available not just to contractors who have CGOne / NIPRNET access but to anyone.
  • We steer clear of acquisition sensitive issues, but at this point there are few things that are acquisition sensitive. We don’t talk about out-year budgets.
  • I got the distinct impression that she supports what we’re doing… It’s a good news story that others may be able to benefit from that we’re glad to share with anyone who’ll listen.
  • No action items… potential next step of being available to discuss with folks in CPO office.

So as the CG-LIMS team continues to use a wiki to transparently and collaboratively develop an acquisition strategy, know that your work is noticed and appreciated by the DHS Chief Procurement Officer. Feel good about that.

photo credit: Ross Mayfield

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