Need assistance with federal acquisitions? Call on agencies in the know.

Smaller agencies that lack expertise could get help for a fee

For federal agencies that lack expertise in specialized information technology procurements, assisted acquisitions might be a pathway to help, panelists at the Federal IT Acquisition Summit suggested April 26.

Smaller federal contracting units could go to larger federal procurement agencies for organizational and management assistance in handling a particular acquisition. If a larger agency performs the procurement on the smaller agency’s behalf, a fee would be charged.

“They come to us for [organizational] bandwidth,” said Peter Burr, director of the civilian sector at the General Services Administration's Federal Systems Integration and Management Center, speaking at the summit .

And that can be a smart decision for agencies that lack a depth and breadth of experience in complex IT procurements, he added.

“IT is very complex. If you are not used to it, that is where we see award protests, and then it is too late,” Burr said.

In addition to performing assisted acquisitions, GSA also is willing to send consultants to agencies that may be considering whether to seek help in the form of an assisted IT procurement, he added.

The area of federal assisted procurement is not well understood, and it is sometimes confused with interagency procurement, the panelists said. In an assisted buy, one organization manages an acquisition on another’s behalf, for a fee.

“Any time you [seek assisted acquisitions], you lose some control,” said Scott Stewart, technical director in the procurement directorate of the Defense Information Systems Agency. “But if you do it right, you can limit the risk and the loss of control.”

“Our biggest question that people are asking is, why are you charging that much?” said John Nyce, associate director in the acquisition services directorate of the Interior Department’s National Business Center. “You have to show them the value.”

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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