A group who shares ideas and experiences employing innovative acquisition practices, collaborative methods and use of Web2.0 technologies to transform federal acquisition.
Need your help – first test of BetterBuy Project idea applied to federal acquisition process
December 23, 2009 at 4:30 pm #87755
We at GSA are in the process of evaluating the ideas we’ve received from the contributors to the BetterBuyProject
We are exploring the concept of an open and collaborative process for requirements development – specifically – launching a wiki and asking industry to help us develop requirements on our selected acquisition(s). So here are some questions we need help answering. Would love to hear your ideas, thoughts, and experiences so we get this right.
Do we open up the process/wiki completely and let anybody edit the draft requirements document? Would it make more sense to start by posting our general need and let industry respond with suggested solutions as part of the market research phase (Sort of like a DefenseSolutions.gov approach
Do we focus this specifically on developing the requirement (e.g. info that would go into a solicitation, but does not look like a solicitation – Section C, F, H, J info), or do we specifically draft those sections in this forum?
Do we have a separate page for industry comment? Is it anonymous?
Do we limit the ability of industry to create new pages?
How do we manage input and comment and maintain version control? Is this a records management issue?
Other questions we need to be asking or issues we need to address?
December 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm #87761
Based on the DefenseSolutions.gov experience, I think the two ways you can go are to receive all the comments and ideas confidentially (this is what DefenseSolutions.gov does, along with protecting intellectual property for 5 years), or make the process open and transparent. The Wiki approach implies the open and transparent approach.
Regarding Industry, I would not allow anonymous access, and would require everyone who registers to make their profile public, along with company affiliation. The concern would be if certain industry players want to game outcomes towards their skillsets – this should be allowed, but it should be transparent. Industry should be allowed to make their own pages, but they should be linked on their profile page (many wiki products do this automatically).
As long as everyone is posting transparently, I think it really gets to the idea that participation open government implies trusted conversation. For this process, while I do see the value of anonymous contributions, and I certainly can imagine a number of downsides. Perhaps there is a middle ground someone can do by requesting an account with a pseudonym that GSA or NAPA approves – meaning GSA/NAPA knows who they are, and verifies that they are an individual instead of a company, but their profile isn’t shared.
Regarding the idea of developing the requirements or posting a general need, I’m clearly biased, and would go strongly in favor of a DefenseSolutions “post the problem/need” approach and look for crowdsourced solutions. Perhaps another approach is to do “Open Govt Projects”, which allowed significant participation from many participants, including the ability to add resources to the project. I’m guessing this might require an act of congress to truly pull off, but it would be a worthy endeavor to work up a proposal for an enlightened Representative/Senator to take up.
December 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm #87759
Regarding the Records Mgmt issue, as long as the wiki tracks all comments and changes (most all wikis do this), you already have the technical part answered. You obviously still need to do the dance with whatever Agency Records Mgmt POC is sponsoring the wiki though. The other obvious question from a policy hassle standpoint is whether this constitutes an information collection (hint – PRA).
January 3, 2010 at 11:06 pm #87757
Glad to see Noel posted here, as I think Defense Solutions.gov is ahead of the game in developing a forum for crowdsourcing solutions. I agree with Noel that the best option and the “easiest” option to implement is the problem/need route vice the requirements route. As you and I have discussed, the current process of requirements development is broken, so why perpetuate it? These initiatives should help revolutionize the way procurement is done, of course with information flow and sharing, knowledge transfer, and collaboration. The Government simply does a poor job of requirements definition, and I do not feel that the Better Buy Project will have the greatest impact with this approach. Further, industry will game the system to shape and influence requirements to favor themselves so that also goes to the need for full disclosure in submitting comments.
I am a vocal proponent of the Government getting out of the requirements development business, and focus on the execution to achieve positive outcomes through need identification and the focus of these needs to build a foundation for successful procurements. This parallels the methods of performance-based contracting, and where I believe these initiatives can have the greatest impact. What the Government needs to buy is innovation, and allowing industry to bring this is best suited with a focus on goals, needs, and outcomes.
Further, solutions that are submitted in response to needs can be vetted for realism, feasibility, and known constraints for possible implementation and impacts to cost, schedule, and performance. The use of wikis can also update stakeholders on vital data for the status of the procurement for information on how to respond and responses to input from industry.
I believe this approach is where Acquisition 2.0 can have the greatest impact, as the demand for innovation requires shock therapy to a system that clearly is not working.
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