A significant amount of money, in actual costs (purchase-price) and variable costs (personnel time, supplies), are wasted via sloppy procurements and how internal documents are stored/organized. And, the government needs to reward the personnel who create solutions that provide measurable/significant increases in productivity.
My personal experience is that acquisition planning is non-existent despite tens-of-millions spent on recurring items (yr-after-yr, procuring the same COTS requirements). Yet these requirements are very easy to define/plan.
Costs will lower when these requirements are consolidated to one or a few contracts because vendors can afford to: their bids are at lower margins (products will cost less) because their profit will increase if they are the successful bidder (due to dollar-size; economies of scale). Consolidated acquisitions are the only way to save money for COTS (commercial-off-the-self) requirements. Conversely, making 20 procurements when only one is necessary costs much more than is necessary.
Moreover, consider consolidating recurring requirements to multiple year contracts, and include FAR clauses that allow for economic or other adjustments. Consolidation to multiple year contracts (exercising options) decreases the time-burden on all personnel from Program Offices (requesters gathering all documents) to Acquisitions (making fewer solicitations, creating far less documentation). And managing internal information is easier because it’s consolidated (Vendor “a” supplies these requirements from Manufacturer “x,” “y,” “z,” etc.). (Multiple small businesses can be awardees, thereby meeting Congressional mandates; economic and other FAR clauses create flexibility.)
+The idea recently in action: 17 items from 03 manufacturers were consolidated, and their IT maintenance requirements co-termed to existing manuf. maint. contracts.
+Less effort: only 01 procurement versus 05 (02 immediately and twelve months out, 03 procurements for maint. because the maint. for new requirements became disconnected from their primary maint. contracts).
+Savings / actual: if 05% was saved, then $75,000 (it was a $1.5+ mil award).
My (non-procurement) office makes hundreds of requests for procurements.
+Savings / variable: Acquisitions is completely swamped with piecemeal procurements, as well as a massive number of requests to de-obligate prior yr $ so . . . how valuable is the time saved? Or, how expensive is overtime?
*The key here is that these issues – recurring requirements, de-ob’s, FY-end / FY-start craziness – are all known. It’s tangible. But, there’s no substantive plan to deal with it.
I mention piecemeal procurements. Up to 02 per day, and at least week after week, there are “emergencies” for requirements that are required within days of each other. Emergencies not withstanding, piecemeal procurements of all kinds are constant because of poor planning. These requirements are procured at full-cost and the paperwork unnecessarily significant.
INTERNAL DOCUMENTS STORED/ORGANIZED
Imagine this just “one click away:” every relevant acquisition-related document and piece of information (data), created by a Federal Commission since its inception. And maintenance time for one person was a few hours / week.
I moonlighted for 3.5 years at a small Commission were I built an Excel “database.” There’s no programming; there’s just a single Tab/Worksheet that provides top-level information and with one click, end-users access all documentation from any acquisition (pre/solicitation phase, contract administration [all deliverables], contract closeout, email, and across all FYs – everything). I recently received an UNSOLICITED email from a Division head at the Commission, “We recently had to rely on your amazing system for some inquiries we received from the Hill related to the [x] contract. Your system was AWESOME!!!”
I “managed” the Commission’s system (e.g., incorporated the newest deliverables) at night – about 10 hours / week.
Lastly, COTRs and their support personnel “mine” the system to locate comparable IGCEs, SOWs and more, of executed awards, which increases productivity.
I used the same logic to build a procurement library for the Commission’s Contracting Officer (CO). The library follows the procurement life-cycle: the CO opens the one Word file, follows the life-cycle to find his required form, clicks on it and can immediately execute the task (e.g., Notice to Successful Bidder). All documents were vetted; all have uniform headers, margins, and language; each file’s “path” is created automatically; and much much more. Also, COTRs and their support personnel have access to it so they are empowered and are responsible for completing required documentation.
Conversely, at a cabinet-level agency (day job), procurement documents are wholly inadequate. Acq. Specialists & Officers have their own versions, formatting is a mess, and the information sometimes outdated. New employees arrive with their never before seen “must be completed” documents and then, separate from the agency as does the need to submit the “must be completed” documents. Commonplace forms and documents are not (or poorly) organized.
Also, I created a Commission-like-database system to organize all relevant data of all recurring software requirements of the CIO’s office. Adoption by Mgmt = zero. My ability to see ahead x months = priceless. One person – all data of all recurring SW assets.
Organizing and storing vast amounts of documents electronically, in a manner that’s easy to navigate and use, is very simple but so rarely performed. This creates massive redundancy and wasted time. It’s even a national security issue; we’re all at risk when a computer component or network system fails and there’s no support.
This is also a managerial issue, is affected by turnover and there are other issues. So perhaps the solution is to incentivize the personnel (?lower level) who can organize and then manage large amounts of relevant – mission critical – information.
Incentivize great performance – why else would a hard-worker or overachiever continue inventing solutions in a wasteful environment?
Incentivize the personnel who – measurably – increase productivity and decrease costs.
Incentivize the consolidation of relevant / important information – whatever it is – onto one page.
Dis-incentivize waste; respectfully,
the Commission adopted the system (used my SOP and trained their new FTE and the easy-to-adopt system continues to produce information for the Hill) while
the cabinet-level agency takes no interest in adopting solutions that easily lower costs.
We have limited resources and can do more with less by using commonsense procurement methods and by leveraging technology. And a work-around to inefficient management but still stimulating improvements, in any/all agencies, is to incentivize productivity, irrespective of title.