OFPP to create interagency contracting working group

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy doesn't need any more hints to realize it needs to look more closely at interagency contracting.

After the Government Accountability Office added interagency contracting to its high-risk list, and in light of the problems at the Defense Department and the General Services Administration over the past two years, OFPP deputy administrator Robert Burton today said his office will lead a working group made up of agency chief acquisition officers in looking at how to improve this type of contracting.

The group will follow up on the work by the Services Acquisition Reform Act panel, which is taking a look at three areas, including interagency contracting. The SARA panel will make recommendations to Congress and OFPP next year.

'We are setting up this group so, when the SARA panel closes down sometime in 2006, we will be in place to implement the panel's recommendations,' Burton said at a conference in Washington sponsored by the Contract Services Association of America, an industry trade association based in Arlington, Va. 'We will coordinate with the SARA panel so we don't duplicate their work.'

Burton, who is managing OFFP until an acting administrator is named, announced the working group last week at the Chief Acquisition Officer's Council meeting, and said he hopes to have the first meeting before Dec. 31.

The panel will decide whether new guidance is needed for interagency contracting and will clarify the roles and responsibilities of agencies in regard to who should describe the requirements, negotiate the terms and conditions, and conduct contract oversight.

'A classic example is when a contract goes into litigation,' Burton said. 'We have issues of who takes the lead. Is it the agency that administered the contract, or the one that actually had the need and hired the other agency to buy the goods or service? There is a lot of back and forth, and contractors have complained because they don't know who is responsible.'

Burton also said all except four agencies submitted three commodities to buy in bulk under OFPP's strategic sourcing initiative. He did not remember which four agencies did not submit their plans on time. The Office of Management and Budget issued a memo in May asking agencies to submit a strategic sourcing plan by Oct. 1.

OFPP will review agency submissions and analyze the data to see what possibilities there are for governmentwide bulk purchases. If there is a governmentwide program, Burton said GSA likely would take the lead.

'We are thinking about adding strategic sourcing to the President's Management Agenda scorecard,' Burton said. 'This is one of the more exciting initiatives because of the potential in getting more bang for the buck.'

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