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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

For agencies, only one measure of success really counts

The Interior Department wants industry to step up and offer advice on incentives for getting good systems administrative services.

The question being asked is how to get companies to do their best work in a tough budget climate. 

Interior cancelled a solicitation for systems operations and administration for its National Business Center after getting complaints from potential bidders that the strategy wasn’t clear.

I have to give kudos to Interior for backing away from the solicitation. It’s a well-known problem that agencies too often issue a solicitation without being able to clearly articulate a strategy. At least Interior is smart enough, and brave enough, to take a second look.

A common complaint I hear from industry is that agencies can’t write good requirements because they don’t know what they need.

From that perspective, Interior’s move is a smart one.

But frankly, more talk isn’t the answer. We don’t need more talk.

The days of agencies struggling to figure out their requirements are over. In today's budget environment, there is only one requirement that agencies have – save money.

Agencies need to say: We need to save X percent over Y amount of time from this operations. Then let industry step up with an answer. Agencies need to forget everything else – forget about hourly rates, forget about profit margins, forget about contractor headcounts.

Let the contractor innovate and be held to the price he quotes. The agency gets the savings it needs, so it can't be worried if the contractor makes a windfall profit. Trust me, that’s not going to happen. But if does, remember that for the recompete because that’s more savings an agency can reap.

Agencies and contractors have one measure of success, one point to audit against.; one objective. 

Is this an oversimplification? Sure, but we've plowed this ground so many times before, how much more talk do we need?

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 07, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Reader Comments

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 Fed Seer

Dec 8 commenter sounds like he is trapped inside the government. There is a cost, and a cost limit, to everything. Dept of Ed is no less successful than, the Department of Defense, for example, when it comes to achieving its mission. We have problems when a segment of the population, or worse yet, a set of government employees and decision makers believes they are entitled to the taxpayers' funds. DoD, which is always poised to do so much good, fits that description. And they drop a lot of money on the floor. And they do not seem to recognize there are more ways that fighting overseas to preserve the security of our country. So, the ethos has to be: we will spend where we get the most results that are good for our country as a whole. No one is "entitled."

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 Eddie W

Dave's comment seems to be just to take a whack at the Dept of Ed. Saving money, while also doing their primary tasks, should be the two most important priorities for any federal agency. It certainly is at ours. Some of the old thinking seriously is holding us back. We "new geners" need to be, no joke, more vocal about moving Gov't into the 21st century.

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 Dave K

Nick, I have to disagree: Saving money is NOT why government agencies exist, nor should it be their top priority... if it were, we could just shut them all down. The ONLY measure of success for an agency should be "Have we accomplished the primary tasks we were given in the law that established us?" Given this measure, we should eliminate the the Dept of Education at the Federal level...

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