Executive Office of the President

Centralize Civilian agency Contracting and Procurement

I suggest you...Reorganize the (non-DOD) Acquisition Workforce so each federal Department has trained and qualified CO and COTR staff trained and supported by a technical contracting office within the OMB. CO and COTR staff would specialize by contract type, size, and complexity and be deployed to specific working assignments within federal agencies and Departments. Quality Assurance and consistent training would be possible by having this occupational workforce report to a central contracting office with adequate expertise and resources. Further, a centralized contracting/acquisition office within the OMB would promote uniform contracting practices by consolidating contracting personnel into a specialized function within government that is supported by a technical branch within OMB, operating similar to how some project management personnel are supported by project management offices (PMOs).

 

According to an April 2010 GAO report, the federal acquisition workforce is not adequately developed or identified to meet the current contracting needs of civilian agencies: "However, the capacity and the capability of the federal government’s acquisition workforce to oversee and manage contracts have not kept pace with increased spending for increasingly complex purchases.... federal civilian agencies’ acquisition spending increased in real terms from $80 billion to $138 billion between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2008, while their acquisition workforce grew at a considerably lower rate. Furthermore, 55 percent of the current acquisition workforce will be eligible to retire in 2018—more than twice the number eligible in 2008, which creates potential future skill shortages." (Matthew Weigelt, Federal Computer Week, April 23, 2010).

 

The current system of acquisitions and procurement in the civilian side provides an inadequate system of support for implementing correct and best practices in contracting. “Collateral duty” COTRs are not adequately trained in their responsibilities, with many agencies having CO staff who are unable to support their COTRs due to increasing workloads and turnover. By organizing the civilian acquisition workforce across Departments into a single division within OMB, CO and COTRs would have more clear roles and responsibilities, career paths, and support to fulfill their function.

 

OMB could pilot this idea by organizing a central office of CO and COTR staff who would be deployed to a single federal Department representing a wide variety of contracting types and procurements. OMB would then be able to provide a cost analysis after a five-year period to identify the ROI of substituting local agency CO and COTR personnel with more highly qualified personnel supported by a single office. Savings in reduced contract modifications, time to process, and other measures could be used to evaluate effectiveness.

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Idea No. 5011