The Role of Chief Acquisition Officers: What Should They Be Doing?

The Service Acquisition Reform Act (SARA) Legislation of 2003 (41 U.S.C. 414) established new positions of Chief Acquisition Officers to oversee Federal civilian agency acquisition operations. The expectation was that the CAO would be highly placed in the agency, advising the agency head on business strategy and focusing on acquisition in the broadest sense of the term. Many would argue that the CAO position has not lived up to its promise.

Preparing for Disasters

This report includes two essays reflecting different perspectives on preparing for and working in large-scale emergencies.

The Role of Contractors in Government: Have We Gone Too Far?

There has been a longstanding recognition that the federal government does not have enough employees with the requisite skills to meet every agency need. Agencies obtain real advantages in employing contractors that can offer specialized skills to handle short-term requirements. Moreover, using a competitive selection process helps to bring both efficiency and innovation to address government needs.

Inter-Agency Collaboration Among Social Services Agencies in Los Angeles County

This report focuses on the intersection of child support with child welfare and the TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) Programs.

The Challenge of Contracting for Large Complex Projects: A Case Study of the Coast Guard's Deepwater Program

The federal government now spends about 40 percent of its discretionary budget to buy everything from office supplies to weapon systems. When the government buys simple products, like paper clips, they can turn to well-established acquisition strategies and practices and apply them to richly competitive markets. When government agencies buy complex products, like weapon systems, conventional acquisition approaches are often insufficient and markets are more challenging.

Federated Human Resource Management in the Federal Government: The Intelligence Community Model

The Intelligence Community developed a "federated" approach to its human capital system under the authority of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. This approach effectively balances the needs of the community with those of individual agencies. Unlike the traditional top-down approaches to policy development, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence worked closely with each of the 17 components of the Intelligence Community to agree upon a new human resource management framework.

Six Practical Steps to Improve Contracting

The IBM Center and George Mason University co-sponsored a series of breakfast seminars over the course of 2008 with a series of acquisition experts who constituted the Acquisition Reform Working Group. They believed that whoever won the election, contracting issues would be on the front burner. With the passage of the Stimulus Bill, having an effective federal contracting function will be critical to the success of the Bill.

Strengthening Government's Ability to Deal with the Financial Crisis

As the administration and Congress take actions to address the immediate financial crisis, determining how to place the government's response on a stronger organizational footing is a key step to reducing the likelihood that the nation will experience a similar financial crisis in the future. In his report, Stanton points out the need to address past policies' inconsistencies, lack of transparency, and shortcomings in organizational capacity. In order to do so, he recommends a number of steps to:

Moving Toward Outcome-Oriented Performance Measurement Systems

Public managers in communities across the country are under increasing pressure by the public to report on the outcomes and results of their programs. With both internal and external demands for information, public managers not only need to provide an accounting of resources expended and services provided, but also report on performance and outcomes.