Agencies ponder how to integrate buying reforms

Former AF exec Chip Mather says guides
may help.

Having developed policies to correspond with procurement reforms passed by Congress in
the last few years, agencies are trying to apply them in a way that corresponds to their

The first step is integrating the policies, said William C. Greenwalt, senior staff
member for the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government
Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia.

“I think we’re just getting started on this,” he said last month at a
General Services Administration forum in Washington.

Government and industry officials at the forum focused on how agencies can integrate
capital investment, performance measures, strategic planning and acquisition planning.

Most of the forum speakers agreed that the government reforms put in place over the
last few years have created a more commercial framework, but agencies now must amass the
data they need to measure performance and make investment decisions.

The acquisition process is no longer a problem, said Chip Mather, senior vice president
for Acquisition Solutions Inc. of Chantilly, Va., and a former Air Force procurement

“As a result, the spotlight is on the noncontracting part,” he said. “We
may be buying fast, but we may be buying the wrong things.”

Some agency officials said they spend an exorbitant amount of time and effort
determining important information, such as a system’s total cost of ownership.
Establishing the necessary data is difficult, they said.

“That’s definitely the weak link,” Greenwalt said. Agencies have to ask
what’s the best they can do with limited resources, he said. “Seventy-five
percent of the solution may be the whole solution in some cases,” he said.

Help’s coming

To help, the Emerging Information Technology Policies Division of GSA’s Office of
Governmentwide Policy introduced two new how-to guides: A Guide to Planning, Acquiring and
Managing IT Systems and A Guide for Modular Contracting.

The publications will help procurement officials cope with the tidal wave of changes in
recent years brought on by legislation such as the IT Management Reform Act and the
Government Performance and Results Act, said Mather, who produced the publications for

During the era of the Brooks Act, “process was the holy grail,” he said. But
the reforms have shifted the emphasis, he said.

Passing laws and setting new policies might have seemed tough, but “implementation
is the hard part,” he said.

The guides are posted on the Web at


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