How Do You Stop a Contracting Disaster?

Posted on September 10, 2012 in Federal Acquisition

In light of the new inherently governmental rules that have been published by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, decision making by the government in regard to acquisition strategy comes to mind. When it comes to hiring contractors to assist in performing acquisition functions, it is very much a caveat emptor situation.

Contracting is a difficult subject, that requires expertise. There are many IT and Program Management firms that continue to receive contracts to provide acquisition support, although they do not have the competency or the skill set to provide it. They just happen to be there providing other support services, are an 8(a) so you can sole-source a contract, or see these opportunities because of the desperate need by government. So why not assist with procurements? It is just paper-pushing anyway, with little value-added service, right? Hardly.

What is happening is that IT Program Managers with a few DAU classes under their belts are making incompetent recommendations related to contract type, acquisition strategy, and requirements. Because the federal IT clients do not understand contracting, and the acquisition shops are overloaded and not providing sound business advice, the government relies on poor advice in its decision making.

Contracts worth millions, sometimes hundreds of millions, are being made in this dysfunctional environment. The government continues to bleed, and incompetent contractors continue to be paid. The inherently governmental rules allow contractors to provide guidance and advice, but little vetting of competency and skill set seems to be happening due to pressures of desperately needing support, and the need to increase contract throughput. These services, when done right, can be very critical to supporting this crucial government management mission. I am not advocating they go away, but in looking at inherently governmental functions, the government really needs to be careful what it is getting and why.

How can we honestly discuss acquisition reform when this environment exists?

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