Reform hones business, federal alliances, Lee says

Government agencies’ increased focus on core missions has propelled
information technology procurement reform, said Deidre Lee, Office of Federal Procurement
Policy administrator. Government must remember that it is ultimately responsible for
making the lives of citizens easier, she said.

“It’s all about matching the systems with the core missions of the agencies
and then with the average citizen,” Lee said, speaking at a recent luncheon sponsored
by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management. “And mission focus
was the result of people saying to the government, ‘We expect better.’ ”

Because of the success of government acquisition reform laws over the past five years,
IT procurement has been a booming success, Lee said.

“Our efforts at reform have been so successful that I think we may see similar
models to the approach that we have taken in the private sector,” she said,
“especially if we can keep things on target and not lose sight of how we made vendors
go through a competitive bid process to take advantage of quality service and prices on
large government contracts.”

Lee predicted that the revision of procurement guidelines will lead to several new
trends in federal IT.

“We’ve already seen the obvious trend of more commercial off-the-shelf
products in government departments and agencies, but I think we can also expect to see
more in terms of commercial service solutions to our technology problems,” Lee said.

But government must not spend money on outsourcing simply because it is the thing to
do, she said.

Feds must understand that whatever is procured—products or services—must meet
a specific need.

“There are all kinds of new technologies out there right now, and much of it can
do all sorts of wonderful things. But don’t [buy] it because it’s exciting or
new, [buy] it because it saves the taxpayer money,” Lee said.

If government acquisition reform is successful, then government and industry could form
stronger bonds, she said.

“Acquisition reform has just begun, and we’ve made a lot of promises, so
let’s deliver,” Lee said.

“Don’t be afraid of it. There is nothing wrong with making a little profit,
even in the federal government,” she said. 


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