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OFPP starts to tackle duplication in Interagency Contracting
September 22, 2010 at 7:21 pm #111612
After you've read the article, here are some questions to get the discussion going in addition to your reaction and thoughts. Are there too many contracts for simliar products and services these days? Can agencies continue to get what they need with fewer contracts and more government-wide contracts? Would it actually help industry to reduce the number of contracts they have to bid and manage and work more in a task order environment (we in government always think it will)? What challenges would you have in working in a world with fewer multi-agency contracts? What benefits do you see? Do you think the OFPP business case approach is the way to evaluate?
September 22, 2010 at 10:11 pm #111616
Your question, "Would it actually help industry to reduce the number of contracts they have to bid and manage and work more in a task order environment (we in government always think it will)?"
I think it would probably depend on the industry segment. Larger integrators and consulting firms (especially the ten to twenty who usually win the major interagency GWACs) might benefit - since less major bids = less sales and bid and proposal expenses.
More successful and sophisticated small businesses might also benefit from some degree of consolidation.
However, thousands of small and mid-size businesses will find themselves with fewer prime contract opportunities and contract vehicles to attach themselves to - probably resulting in a lower small business survival rate. Assuming that a continual stream of smaller, agile, innovative small businesses is in the nation's interest, then I think OFPP needs to be careful to strike a balance between the perceived efficiencies and cost savings of consolidation versus the importance of maintaining sufficient open competitiveness.
September 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm #111614
There is no question that the proliferation of multiple award contracts (MACs) has created excessive waste and administrative burdens to both the government and industry. Reigning in this problem requires a two-pronged attack strategy: stop unnecessary new MACs from being created, and consolidate the ones that currently exist. I believe this is similar to Congressional PayGo and deficit reduction policies, with the difference being this can actually work!
Business cases should be mandatory for all new MACs. The focus, of course, needs to be effective resource management, not to mention a comprehensive requirements development and stakeholder analysis to ensure internal and external MAC sources are not available to meet the new requirement. There exists few legitimate arguments, in my opinion, that can justify this explosion of MACs. What I see is continued waste through little collaboration across government and distrust in other agencies MAC products to ensure lower prices. More on this issue via GovExec: Analysis: New guidance creates contracting conundrum
I believe industry would also appreciate the opportunity to cut a lot of the expensive and burdensome administration of having to compete and manage multiple MACs for similar products and services. The government has created a culture of redundancy for industry by a "Pay to Play" construct. I do not mean anything nefarious, but firms are forced to spend resources to be on multiple MACs that offer similar services.
What about small business participation and ensuring consolidation does not turn into a bundling exercise? Accountability is the answer. Ensuring small business participation and execution of small business objectives for MAC awardees is crucial to ensure small businesses can compete. Also finding ways to include small business only MACs, such as Alliant Small Business (Alliant SB), is another appropriate activity.
I am not a big believer in reinventing the wheel, but yet another government database to capture even more data that exists? Really OFPP? I believe this already exists in the Interagency Contract Directory (ICD). Not the best system in the world, but with investment and increased capability, it can be very effective so long as the interfaces and information in Federal Procurement Data Systems-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) are correct and robust.
Overall, a lot of work is needed to improve this process, but it must be done through a standardized and centralized approach. There are way too many contracts for similar products and services these days, and the government will not be able to effectively implement any consolidated, strategic sourcing without a real push by leaders across government to get on the same team and work for the taxpayers vice their own self-interests.
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