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Peter G. Tuttle
This group is going to generate some great content that should provide actionable suggestions to improve the acquisition process – for both Government and Industry!!!
Jaime’s Question: What are some areas you see that are difficult, either from industry’s side, or from government’s? Here are three quick thoughts:
1) Frankly, just trying to establish and maintain meaningful communications can be a chore in itself. To start with, recognize that everybody on both sides of the table is overworked and has precious little time to reach out and “chat.” This being said, in our rush to plow through our daily workload, sometimes we do not see the value of the communication attempt by the other party. Perhaps part of any attempt at communicating should include a short value statement (e.g. this is why I am calling or emailing and what’s the value to you for responding).
2) Our Government peers need to realize that industry will take the effort to find out the information they are seeking – one way or another. With flattening budgets and fierce competition for any Federal business, industry will continue to have an apparently insatiable appetite for information. Government acquisition activities will continue to be very heavily scrutinized for any opportunity to do business. Industry realizes that as the acquisition process matures, communications become much more formal because of the Government’s responsibility to provide a level, competitive and fair playing field. Earlier in the process, however, there are ample opportunities to communication openly about requirements, market capabilities, etc. Try to take the opportunity to communicate when and where you can. If industry feels that Government is shutting off communications inappropriately, they will seek ways to compel communication.
3) Company’s want to know why they lost a competition. If they compete under FAR Part 15, the expectations for debriefing subjects are pretty cut-and-dry. The extent of required debriefing subjects for those acquisitions that are conducted under Parts 8 and 12 are somewhat less. OK, I get that, but industry still really wants to know details about why they lost. They want to know this so they can be more competitive on the next opportunity. Vague and superficial debriefing information, although allowed by the FAR, is absolutely useless. One example might be a company scored an “adequate” instead of a “good” on the technical factor. They will want to know specifically where they fell short when compared to the solicitation requirements. Government has this information since they have to provide the evaluation. Share the detail. The potential issue if detail is not shared is that industry will think something is being hidden from them or that there was a problem with the overall evaluation process. With budgets getting flatter and the competition getting fiercer as the Nation tries to take steps to address the deficit, I doubt that many in industry will be satisfied with rather bland debriefings.
Anyway, for what it is worth, these are three post-coffee thoughts. I am absolutely interested in any comment, rebuttal, reaction, etc. We are all in this situation together, nomatter where our office is located and have to work creatively together to help our Nation use scarce dollars wisely.