GAO acquisition framework soon to be employed

Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator Paul Denett announced yesterday that the agency has plans to implement an acquisition framework developed by congressional auditors more than a year ago.

Denett said he made the decision to move forward with the framework in the near future after reviews by the Chief Acquisition Officer's Council and GAO this fall.

"We will have the right number [of people], the right training and the right framework. It does not help us to have the right framework if our team is consistently 0-16. To help us, we are going to adopt the General Accountability Office's framework for acquisition," said Denett, who spoke at a conference in Fairfax, Va., sponsored by the National Contract Management Association.

For government IT, implementing GAO's "A Framework for Assessing the Acquisition Function at Federal Agencies" means data management and security will be priorities.

GAO developed the framework after years of experience auditing various acquisition programs. GAO said when it released the document in the fall of 2005 that it hoped once agencies implemented the framework, inspector generals and others would have better information as they perform procurement oversight.

Denett's endorsement moves this closer to reality.

Implementing the GAO's framework is a key component of Denett's solution of how to complete more contracts with fewer resources. Federal procurement is facing what could be a serious problem as senior acquisition staff reaches retirement age. Denett rejected the notion that the only way to solve the problem is to hire more people.

"It is too easy to say that the number of procurement people has gone down and the money has gone up, ergo we need more people," said Denett. "We have to find out if we have the right people. Do we have round people in square jobs? It is not one size fits all."

In addition to the staffing issues, Denett reiterated the Bush administration's support of its competitive sourcing initiative, which requires agencies to compete their commercial functions with the private sector.

Competitive sourcing "is the right thing to do," said Denett. "There is no other way for us to ensure we are getting the best" proposals for our resources.

That said, Denett acknowledged that with the Democratic takeover of Congress, he likely would spend more time on Capitol Hill defending the program.

Even with the Republicans in charge, Congress has not been a true fan of the program, continually putting provisions in spending bills that hinder, stop or require extra work by agencies to perform the competitions under OMB Circular A-76.

"We are going to continue to work with Congress to eliminate some of the impediments," said Denett.

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