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Procurement 2.0 at Gov 2.0 Expo: Lessons from the Better Buy Project

Sitting in on the Procurement 2.0 session at the Expo, discussing the evolution of the Better Buy Project. The session is being masterfully moderated by Chris Dorobek.

Chris Hamm, GSA:
– Used IdeaVoice
– Top Idea: “Put an end to dump of ‘end of year’ procurements”
– Another idea: Work out requirements on a wiki – this is the one they implemented
– Before the wiki existed: “we’d find smartest person on the topic, lock them in room, produce reqs in vacuum”
– For everything gov’t buys, there are a number of companies with strong motivation to contribute to req process
– The wiki changed what the government was going to buy – lengthened time, but improved quality
– Getting the word out: media push, but also followed the normal procedures
– Posted updates via Twitter…but not ingrained in our culture…
– This is a pilot exercise and we’re asking: “Did it provide value?”
– The very nature of this pilot forces collaboration in a way that didn’t exist before.
– Other questions: who is authorized to speak on behalf of government? Technical or acquisition side?
– Looking at how we interact during procurement process itself – Skype, Ustream, Webchat vehicles – if someone can’t log in, is that grounds for protest, etc.?
Lisa Grant, GSA:
– Important to provide transparency in the process, but privacy to the vendors
– Why important to maintain privacy of vendors? They don’t want to ‘tip their hand,’ lose competitive advantage
– First step prior to launch, posted Request for Information through eBuy, directed them to wiki
– When I think about it contractually, one benefit: able to see suggestions, input to our requirement that would help us develop a better solicitation package – from that perspective, thumbs up
– From research gathering perspective, didn’t get as much information as usual…so thumbs down there.
– We’ll provide a little more detail in the future as we tweet along the way
– For Data.gov, the req was not as clearly defined nor was acquisition strategy…talked about vehicles a lot
– Questions we posted were to be helpful in that process…
– We were cognizant of “protest possibility,” so we were careful
– Didn’t tweet anything that would change procurement itself; sought input from industry
– With 25 years of experience, “it makes me very nervous to have such an open forum, but helped my folks to create their package”…so sees the value.
Susan Turpyn, Unisys
– With this wiki environment, you can still largely see what everyone is posting
– Have a moderator who removes certain comments
– On contractor side, equally inefficient with multiple teams and stakeholders
– At first, we took content of the wiki and used same process: print it out, pass it around, etc.
– BUT then we tried something new: we cloned the wiki for ourselves…leading to internal culture change!
– Closing question: how do we continue to improve collaboration process b/t industry/government?
– There has to be a way where if you share a comment, get a response back…more like dialogue.
Michael Carroll, GSA
We were looking for cost estimates and structures on front side, but industry was hesitant
– Has tremendous potential for market research: a) didn’t have to know resources, brought them to us; b) was self-documenting…did a lot of the work for us.
Kevin Merritt, Socrata
I’d like to see the full loop: transparency from requirements through award and post-award
– GSA was looking to round out requirements
– There were a few wrinkles that we needed to improve:
– Poker analogy: advantages based on where you sit…holds true for wiki; people wait for others to “show hand”
– At first, delay in contractor response while they determined their strategic approach
– For us in industry: What question is being asked by GSA? What was added by someone in industry?
– I would encourage folks to think: how do you create process that doesn’t eliminate value creation aspect?

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Jaime Gracia

Andy – Sorry I missed you at this event. Great notes, as I was organizing mine as well for a more in depth analysis and blog post.

Sterling Whitehead

Andy, I’m putting together a mini-case study of acquisition 2.0. I’d like to use these notes word for word. Can I do that?

Andrew Krzmarzick

Hi Sterling – these are those notes! I am planning to write another, more detailed post as well with some thoughts based on what I heard.