John van Santen replied to the topic Is bad press making contracting an unattractive field? See what this professor says… in the forum Acquisition2.0 9 years, 8 months ago
Government contracting is so diverse that a single perspective won’t address all aspects. But, if pressed for one single element of what needs to be fixed, then I vote for improvement of the acquistion workforce. Wait – before marching on the castle with farm implements and torches, let me clarify one thing: I believe that the weakest links in the acquistion chain are not the 1102s putatively held to be the acquisition workforce. No, much like Deming faulted management for bad quality, not the workers, I fault the leadership who launches programs (and acquistions); who determines to use contractors or government (including interagency contracting); whose two cents on the type of contracting vehicle, and what goes into the RFP, as well as who is represented on the source selection committee, and who writes the performance reviews for the KO/COs. Improve the quality of the people who shape the outcomes executed by the professional staff to better acquistion outcomes. Foster communication and cooperation, not single-minded focus on mission and agency fiscal performance. Think big picture, not WIFM. Tackle problems that cross into someone else’s watch instead of protecting turf, running the wheels off the bus, or just plain ducking. If government is making hard choices, so is managing acquistions from a position of power and influence. It’s not only about character, it’s about training and working knowledge about acquistion (esp. the public service kind); it’s about respect for the SMEs without abdication; it’s about leading and cajoling and questioning up and down the chain of command, working together to get an outcome that most stakeholders would agree is pretty darn good. I suggest reading the testimony of Prof. Joshua Schwartz before the Subcommitte on Contracting Oversight at http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=285c9cdb-169a-448d-8fe8-5a7f04fb1466
Poll of the Week
Could your inbox use a little more awesome?
Sign up to get a daily dose of awesome gov-focused resources, trainings, blogs and articles to help you do you job better.