Buying-for-value vs. buying-for-price is a problem the Defense Department is trying to address as part of its Better Buying Power 2.0 guidance.
Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council, says the dichotomy between cost and value will intensify in 2013 as getting the most for their money drives agency procurement.
Stan Soloway’s Top 3 for 2013
Buying for value vs. buying on the cheap — In its Better Buying Power 2.0, the Defense Department has clearly acknowledged that the use of low price buying strategies for other than routine, commodity purchases is becoming too common and must be addressed. Will the department, and the rest of government, take steps to ensure that innovation and technical excellence are the hallmarks of its acquisitions? Or will procurement continue to be prey to aggressive cost cutting strategies that inhibit innovation and settle for mediocrity?
Acquisition Reform — In addition to BBP 2.0, the Office of Management and Budget’s new strategic sourcing guidance and expected IT acquisition reform legislation in both Houses of Congress, point to another year of acquisition reform efforts. In making strategic sourcing a top priority, OMB must remain alert to the real challenges that exist. While there is little debate about its value for commodity products and services, for other than commodities, real challenges exist to properly aligning strategic sourcing with the needs of complex services requirements, particularly in the technology arena. How far will the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative extend? How will it be reconciled and aligned with the realities of a complex technology environment? And how will proposed legislative changes impact the government’s acquisition and use of technology?
The Federal Workforce— As austerity continues to hold sway, the federal workforce could, and likely will, feel the effects in both numbers and training and developmental resources. As we learned during the 1990s, a failure to be highly strategic with regard with the federal workforce can leave significant gaps in capability that later haunt federal operations. This is especially true in the acquisition and technology environments, which are not only central to government operations but also have substantially distorted workforce demographics and capabilities. Will there be careful attention paid to genuinely strategic human capital or will the government again default (as it did in the 90s) to a “peanut butter spread” approach to its workforce, as is feared by many acquisition and technology leaders in the government.
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 4-7 p.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006 as the producer and news anchor of the station’s morning drive program, the Federal Drive. He launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.