A Guide for Agency Leaders on Federal Acquisition
This report has been prepared to assist government executives in understanding one of the most complex bureaucratic processes in government: the federal procurement system. Understanding this system is one of the key ingredients to a successful tenure in government. In the past, some government executives have run into significant issues related to a lack of knowledge about federal contracting. In addition, improved management of the federal acquisition process is crucial in this era of tight budgets.
This report answers seven key questions that government executives should know about the procurement process. These questions
- Why do federal agencies contract for goods and services?
- What is the overarching goal for any purchase?
- What are the three basic phases of the federal acquisition life cycle?
In addition to answering these seven key questions, Professor Brown also discusses the three acquisition challenges that government executives now face. These challenges include navigating the regulatory and oversight landscape, mitigating acquisition risk through contract design, and improving the acquisition workforce. For each of these areas, Professor Brown sets forth strategies for overcoming the challenge.
This report continues the IBM Center’s long interest in the federal procurement process. The Center recently published Controlling Federal Spending by Managing the Long Tail of Procurement by David Wyld. In that report, Professor Wyld describes "tail spend," which is procurement outlays that are outside of an organization’s core spending and core supplier groups, covering many miscellaneous expenditure categories that are not managed as part of an organization’s core operations. Wyld argues that the federal government can save money by tightening their control of tail spend.