Administration’s 2016 acquisition outlook: ‘There’s far more to do’

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With little more than a year left as President Barack Obama’s chief acquisition officer, Anne Rung is determined to make more upgrades to how the government buys goods and services.

Rung has already made good on 22 of the 24 goals laid out on the December 2014 memo, “Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation, and Increase Savings,” which focused on category management, or “thinking about how we can be smarter in the commodity space both buying and managing, with the real focus around IT,” she told FedScoop; innovation; and improving vendor relationships. Still, she said, there’s much to be accomplished before the next administration takes office.

“We’re starting to see the results of those efforts,” said Rung, who’s officially been in her position since September 2014. “Now we really want to focus the next year on maturing those areas and scaling them up.”

As Rung wrote in a recent commentary for Bloomberg Government: “While we’ve accomplished a great deal, there’s far more to do.”

Around category management, Rung’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy has already issued a pair of guidance memos reforming how agencies buy workstations and software. Next up, she said, will be similar guidance around mobile solutions.

For each of those efforts, she told FedScoop, OFPP has been thinking of them “like a startup company, where we’re going to sort of prototype it and then scale it up over time.”

Crucial to the development of more effective and efficient federal procurement, particularly around IT, innovation is another line item that Rung will continue to emphasize in 2016. In 2015, her office launched the Digital Service Contracting Professional Training and Development Program, which trains 30 career federal acquisition professionals to work in a more agile and innovative way. Contractors ICF International and ASI Government have been working together to train the professionals in a modular way since October, and those trainees will graduate from the program in March, Rung said.

Finally, Rung is looking to improve agency-vendor relationships, primarily through Acquisition 360, an industry feedback initiative launched in 2015 that she said only saw a 27 percent response rate from vendors. “We’re hoping to increase that with the next iteration,” which will broaden the surveys’ focus and look to improve upon post-performance debriefings, an area industry reported needs improvement, Rung said.

The key to success in each of these areas, Rung believes, starts well before launching any public guidance — it comes from working with the agencies from the start in an iterative manner to conform to their needs.

“A year ago I committed to simplifying this space, and this is the way to do it,” she said. “Agencies have been receptive, and I think it’s in part because the policies are really flowing from the bottom-up. They’re coming through governmentwide cross-functional teams.”

To make that even more effective, Rung’s office will deliver the “top-down leadership to help drive it,” she said. “We’re hoping that’s the perfect nexus to make an impact.”

In this final year of the Obama administration, the goal, Rung said, will be to institutionalize these efforts by showing successes.

“The approach for us has always been let’s think about developing the prototypes and really showing success and scaling it up over time,” she said. “If you can’t show that success, it’s not going to be embedded and it’s not going to be able to be scaled up. We are really focused on being able to show the success of our efforts and scaling it up; that’s how you institutionalize it.”

Reach the reporter on this story at billy.mitchell@fedscoop.com. Follow him on Twitter @BillyMitchell89.

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Agencies, Anne Rung, Government IT News, Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Procurement, White House
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