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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Forget the election; now the work begins

Our long national nightmare is over: election season 2012 is finished. Whew.

Now the real work begins. We know the "who," but a lot of the "what" and "how" is yet to be answered.

Here are four priorities Congress and the White House should take on over the next 18 months.

Accelerate and encourage cross-agency initiatives:
Of course this isn’t a new idea. You can trace its roots back to the Clinton administration and Reinventing Government, and probably earlier. But administration has had its version. Today, the technology exists to make much of the rhetoric a reality. Done correctly, the government can improve efficiency and effectiveness and lower costs.

Focus government contracting on outcomes:
Step one is a clear statement in solicitations that explains why an agency is buying a particular product or service. I get sick of reading, so-and-so has an ongoing need for IT services, or words to that effect.

Figure out a way to reward risk taking:
The competing demands of budgets and missions demand innovation, but in today’s environment, the government is too fearful of oversight and reprimands. That fear needs to be mitigated. People need cover to try new things.

Make it easier to contractors and agencies to fire each other:
The government and contractors alike talk about the benefits of the government buying goods and services like the private sector. But the flipside that needs to be considered. If a project is going awry, you need to be able to walk away. Plus, the fear of being fired can be healthy.

Obviously, I’m writing this before I know the results, but it really doesn’t matter. The challenges are nonpartisan, and will be here no matter who wins and loses.


Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 06, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Reader Comments

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 Jaime Gracia Washington, DC

In regards to contract reform, what happened to the Subcontracting Transparency And Reliability (STAR) Act of 2012? It just stalled in Congress. Small businesses need help, and this legislation would go a step in the right direction to help federal government meet small business contracting goals. Granted the devil is always in the details, but part of this legislation would be to put enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure small businesses are getting the proper share of government contractors through ensuring pass-through contracts, and large businesses executing required subcontracting plans. Given the fact federal leaders are asleep at the switch to enforce existing rules (e.g. FAR 19.7), accountability through legislation that gives teeth to enforcement seems to make sense.

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 John T. California

I like your line "Focus government contracting on outcomes:" and I think it can be useful in its own right as the statement: "Focus on outcomes:"
In other words - "Keep your mind in the game and your eye on the ball". To do this, we all have to acknowledge our responsibility for getting where ever we 'are' and our power to get 'where we are going'. Let's stop the blaming and defaming and get on with the game!

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