Styles says A-76 best-value method could be tested on IT functions

Styles says A-76 best-value method could be tested on IT functions

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy likely will use IT functions to test a proposed integrated acquisition method for competing government jobs.

OFPP administrator Angela Styles today said her office is close to finishing its revision of OMB Circular A-76. Changes to the program, which the government uses to consider whether to privatize government jobs or keep them within the federal service, will include many of the recommendations made in April by the Commercial Activities Panel, she said.

Styles discussed the revised circular for the first time publicly at a Heritage Foundation luncheon in Washington where she said she expected the new circular to be out for public comment in a few weeks.

In its report about how to improve the A-76 process, the panel's chief recommendation was that OFPP incorporate a Federal Acquisition Regulation approach in competing federal jobs, using best value to weight proposals from public- and private-sector teams seeking to handle government functions [see story at www.gcn.com/21_10/outsourcing/18583-1.html].

Styles said an IT-related pilot makes the most sense because buying technology using best value works well. She did caution that OMB has yet to make a final decision on the pilot, and IT is probably the chosen industry.

'I can't imagine an industry that is more appropriate for not just looking at the low-cost provider, which is what our current circular is based on right now,' she said. 'We want it to be a true cost-technical trade-off.'

Styles said OFPP would consider alternate functions for its test if agencies make the case that something else would be more appropriate.

Although she is not sure how long the pilot will last, it will be open to all civilian agencies. The Defense Department is excluded because Congress has mandated that DOD use low cost as the key criterion in its A-76 reviews.

The new integrated process will not guarantee that a government team be included among the finalists, Styles noted. Under the current A-76 process, agencies review vendors' bids and then compare the winning vendor submission against the government team's proposal.

'The best person providing the service will win, and we will treat everyone on a level playing field for purposes of competition,' she said. 'This is like source selection in the FAR, and this is the most fundamental change in the circular.'

Styles also said the circular will be paired down to about 50 pages from 120, and it will be much easier to understand.

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