OFPP to clamp down on specifying brand names in procurements

The administration wants agencies to stop naming names when buying products.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Office of Management and Budget's IT and E-Government Office will soon send a memo to agency officials reminding them that it is against the Federal Acquisition Regulations to name a specific product in a procurement without a written justification.

'Industry expressed some concerns about the calling out of specific products of a single manufacturer,' said Robert Burton, deputy OFPP administrator, at the FOSE 2005 trade show in Washington. 'Our understanding is that the justifications are not getting done.'

Burton said OFPP administrator David Safavian gave a presentation to the CIO Council to highlight the problem because it often is found in IT purchases. Burton added this also is a problem when agencies buy office supplies.

'The feeling of the Chief Acquisition Officer's Council was this is a systemic problem,' Burton said. 'The memo will refer agencies back to the FAR rules and reinforce the need to comply with them.'

In addition to the forthcoming memo, OFPP and the CAO Council are reworking the group's subcommittees to make sure they still are relevant. The current subcommittees include competitive sourcing, small business, e-government and workforce.

Along with the possible reorganization of the subcommittees, the council is using the Defense Acquisition University's acquisition workforce training to standardize civilian training, and considering how to improve the recruitment and retention of contracting officers.

'We have only 27,000 contracting officers in the government, and 40 percent to 50 percent are eligible to retire in the next five years,' said Deborah O'Neill, NASA procurement analyst and an assistant to the council's human capital subcommittee. 'There is a looming retirement crisis, and we are not prepared for it.'

The council also is considering a certification program for project and program managers and contracting officers, O'Neill said.

'We want the training and certification to be interchangeable and transparent,' said Glenn Perry, the Education Department's CAO. 'We want to know the person meets a minimum set of standards.'

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