Commercial E-Procurement Model Won't Work for Government

Commercial E-Procurement Model Won't Work for Government

The government likely cannot adopt a completely commercial model for electronic procurement, and it probably shouldn't, according to Deidre Lee, director of procurement for the Department of Defense.

Speaking at the E-Gov Electronic Procurement Conference Jan. 31 in Vienna, Va., Lee said there are too many government specific requirements to use a completely commercial model.

"The fundamentals of government procurement are different," she said.

Among the differences are requirements for open competition and accountability taxpayers, she said.

"But we need to figure out the e-procurement model," she said.

One answer could be to change some of government requirements, but without forsaking competition, accountability or the ability to conduct audits, said Lee, who before joining the Defense Department was administrator of federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget.

The government also could make greater use of upfront certifications from contractors instead of having the contract certify that it meets government requirements every time there is a procurement.

"The answer lies with industry," she said. "How do you help us meet our public responsibilities?"

Whatever changes are made, no one should expect them to happen overnight, Lee said.

"We need to do things in distinct bites with succinct goals," she said.

By taking a step-by-step approach, the government can score small victories, and at the same time have a review process in place to make sure it is headed the right direction, she said.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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