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Giving Thanks to Those Trying to Make Government Contracting Better

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Giving Thanks to Those Trying to Make Government Contracting Better

By BillGormley
Published: December 22, 2010

Government contracting so often gets a bad wrap. I;s too hard to land a contract, awarded contracts are unfair, government is uncooperative, or industry is uncooperative. -ve heard all these and many, many more.

It has become almost chic to insult the contracting process.

There are certainly things within government contracting that need to be fixed. This is nothing new. But, instead of focusing on those, I would like instead to talk about someone trying to make the process better- what h's doing, and how it will help small businesses.

Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP)

The OFPP is where government contracting policies are determined. Dan Gordon is the Administrator of the OFPP, appointed just over a year ago, in November 2009. According to the White House,'Mr. Gordon is responsible for developing and implementing acquisition policies supporting more than $500 billion in federal spending annually'

Tha's a huge responsibility.

I attended an event earlier this month, called'Federal Procurement Updat', where Mr. Gordon was one of the main speakers. He talked very specifically about how he plans to fix wha's broken.

For small businesses, this means there may be more opportunity to secure, and work, small-business set-aside contracts instead of having larger contractors do the majority of the work through small-business'fronts.

Mr. Gordon also addressed the question of insourcing - a topic that also has a large impact on small businesses, as the more government moves to insourcing the fewer opportunities there may be for small businesses.

Mr. Gordon, however, was clear that the government is not making a massive move to insourcing, as many had believed. We do not view insourcing as a goal, Mr. Gordon stressed several times.

We're rebalancing our relationship with contractors, he explained. That doesn't mean we're against contractors - we need contractors. We just want to be sure the contractors are supporting us and that we're not giving up our role to the contractors to have the contractors in charge.

This, again, is good news for small businesses.

Better Management, More Communication

Mr. Gordon concluded his speaking points at the event discussing two topics I happen to feel very strongly about: better management and more communication.

If you've done business with the government before, you may have noticed that industry and government both can be improved in both of these areas.

For his part, however, Mr. Gordon intends to tackle the government's role, particularly in the area of contract management. We are taking this seriously, folks, he said The days where no one pays attention to what contractors do - where we sign the award and walk away - are over.

He talked specifically about having contract officers and specialists involved at the start of the process - helping define requirements and participating in kick-off meetings - and continuing to be involved throughout. The contract specialist needs to be part of the team from day one, he said.

An increased focus on contract management feeds directly into the need for more open lines of communication between industry and government.

Mr. Gordon said that OFPP is about to launch a myth-busting campaign, to help agencies better understand their role in the contracting process. The campaign, he said, is designed to explain to contracting specialists what they can and cannot do in terms of communicating with industry before and after contract award.

There is enough fear on both sides - in government and in industry - about having open dialogue that this type of campaign may have a huge impact and may forge a type of communication we haven't seen in years.


I appreciate so much what Dan Gordon is doing - taking the reigns and making things better. And, in this season of giving, I wanted to take a moment to thank him publicly, to an audience of small-business owners who may reap the greatest benefits from what he has to say.

I would also be remiss in not thanking Business.gov, for providing a place where any small business can get answers to tough questions - and grow their businesses accordingly.

I've enjoyed giving back to this community and hope that you have gained some benefit by having me share my experiences in both the public and private sectors.


Additional Resources

Bill Gormley is president and CEO of Washington Management Group and FedSources, chairman of the Coalition for Government Procurement, and Vice Chair at the Procurement Round Table.

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