DHS procurement chief puts focus on better communications with contractors

Despite what it might feel like sometimes, communication with the government  is not a one-way street.

Fluid, back-and-forth communication was the name of the game during DHS chief procurement officer Soraya Correa’s presentation at Washington Technology’s DHS Industry Day on Thursday.

Correa outlined two main communication-focused events that industry should be aware of since the events can be valuable to contractors.

In November 2015, DHS launched the first of its Reverse Industry Days, which are events where DHS officials meet with industry, but the industry determines the agenda.

“They form an agenda on what they want us to understand about their business model, and we share with them what some of our perceptions are to help form that agenda,” Correa said. She is also sure to bring with her an audience comprised of procurement officials, CIOs, CTOs, program managers, and contract specialists to help make the conversation  more valuable.

“The purpose of that dialogue is really for industry—small, medium, and large—to talk about what drives them, what motivates them, how they perceive our actions and what they are looking for from us,” Correa said.

DHS also holds Acquisition Innovations in Motion, or AIiM, roundtables, which are meant to serve as the framework for establishing meaningful and recurring engagements with industry.

The roundtables are also meant to implement targeted acquisition initiatives designed to improve how the department does business.

Such topics have included debriefings—something contractors agree is often notoriously bad or non-existent—and how to attract startup companies and other companies without government customers to do business with the federal government.

Another relevant roundtable topic is requests for information. “Sometimes, you’re baffled by why we use the requests for information—what is its purpose?” Correa said. “We hosted a roundtable for RFIs, and we have already hosted webinars on how to better use those RFIs.”

DHS is also in the process of establishing another RFI-focused roundtable to follow up.

For more information, see the DHS AIiM webpage.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at mhoover@washingtontechnology.com, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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