29 December 2014

How 'FAR' We Have Come: Looking Ahead To What 2015 May Bring In Federal Procurement Policy

Reed Smith


The Office of Federal Procurement Policy ("OFPP") is now under new leadership. Confirmed by the Senate in September, Anne Rung will take on the job of managing the federal government’s acquisition policy.
United States Government, Public Sector
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Co-authored by: Paula Salamoun

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy ("OFPP") is now under new leadership. Confirmed by the Senate in September, Anne Rung will take on the job of managing the federal government's acquisition policy. Prior to her most recent appointment, Rung held the position of General Services Administration chief acquisition officer and associate administrator of governmentwide policy. Last month, at the National Contract Management Association, Rung provided a roadmap for her forthcoming tenure. This roadmap gives valuable insight on the foreseeable future of public procurement policy.

So what's ahead for 2015 and beyond in the world of federal public procurement? According to Rung's goals, you should be ready for innovation, collaboration and, most importantly, simplification.

New Purchasing Vision

Under Rung's tenure, we may see a push toward "category management" – a procurement buzzword for organizing purchases under an umbrella category across government, as opposed to the individual, unit-centric method in place now. The point, according to Rung, is to manage key information like common spend, prices and performances, so that different agencies are not paying different prices for the same items or services. Theoretically, this would also create a one-stop-shop for vendors, thereby reducing solicitation inefficiencies. Each category would have a category leader – or as political trend-setters are apt to say, a "category tsar," from industry or government.

Acquisition Workforce

Rung's second idea for simplifying the federal procurement labyrinth focuses on the acquisition workforce. Echoing the inter-agency collaboration theme from her discussion of purchasing, Rung cited the government's recent release of two new products that are aimed at improving the delivery of IT services across government. These products – the Digital Service Playbook and the TechFAR Handbook – are meant to provide an IT best-practices resource and a guide to implementing best practices. At heart, these two products will teach agencies how to operate more like private businesses, while still complying with the Federal Acquisition Regulations ("FAR").

Given that the FAR is inextricably linked to heavy-handed notions of government oversight and regulations, attempting to harmonize the FAR with private industry processes may be a tall, if not impossible, task. However, Rung is looking to collaborate with industry leaders in order to better develop the acquisition work force. Indeed, under Rung's leadership, 2015 may see an attempt to reduce the FAR's discord with market processes, at least just a bit.

Vendor Relationships

The last collaborative push for Rung comes in the area of vendor relations, especially in the arena of high-risk procurements. In order to foster cooperation and collaboration, Rung intends to more consistently engage with industry leaders as part of OFPP's Mythbusters campaign. Practical examples of how Rung might achieve this goal include the development of an online national dialogue with industry, and a new vendor rating tool providing a space for constructive feedback on agency acquisitions.

This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

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