The Public Needs to Know
The Acquisition Process Competition Requirements Choconda Martin BUS 319 November 5, 2012 Professor Calvin D. Fogle Almost all DOD systems are competed at some stage in the acquisition system (we would guess that less than 10% of acquisition programs do not go through a competitive process at least once in their acquisition cycle). Generally, the sequence is: • Define the requirement (determine the mismatch between operational capability–more about this below); • Advertise the need for a product that can satisfy the requirement; • Accept bids from potential suppliers; • Review proposals and select one or more suppliers, Order the product; • Monitor progress; • Accept the finished product; • Review project documentation and pay for the product.
This cycle repeats itself one or more times during system development and one or more times during procurement (purchase of a major end item previously developed or available commercially). For large systems, procurement follows a highly demanding DOD-funded development process and the prime manufacturer, almost by necessity, is the developer. In such cases, the competitive steps for a given phase of the acquisition process (listed above) would not be repeated during the procurement phase.
Some things that I would change would be the misconception of communication within the industry during acquisition processing. The Federal Government has an obligation to conduct procurements in the most effective, responsible and efficient manner possible. Current market information is very vital as they define the requirements, so that the contracting officers can develop the acquisition strategies, seek opportunities for small businesses, and negotiate contract terms. Industry partners are the best source for this information, so productive interactions is very important and should be encouraged.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) authorizes a broad range opportunites for vendor communication, but agencies most time do not take advantage of these existing flexibilities. Some agencies may be reluctant due to fear of protests or fear binding the agency in unauthorized commitments. If we increase the awareness by training the agencies with the help of DAU (Defense Acquisition University) and agency training practitioners to conduct an awareness campaign we might be able to eliminate unnecessary barriers to engagement.
Agencies should provide clear, consistent direction to their workforce and industry partners about how to engage with industry prior to award of contracts and task and delivery orders under the Federal Supply Schedule, government-wide acquisition contracts, and other indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts. While agencies do not have the resources, and are not required, to meet with every vendor at every step of the acquisition process, information gathered from industry sources plays an invaluable role in the acquisition process.
For this reason, agencies must develop practices that will ensure early, frequent, and constructive communication during key phases of the process. The federal government’s ability to achieve successful program outcomes, effectively and efficiently, depends upon agencies establishing effective strategies for industry engagement and supporting those strategies with senior-level commitment.