The Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued guidance Wednesday for Acquisition 360, a feedback tool for agencies to evaluate their acquisition processes.
OFPP Administrator Anne Rung released a memorandum to all CFO Act agencies to use the tool to “improve how they receive and use industry and internal feedback to strengthen their acquisition function from pre-award activities up to, and including, contract award and debriefings,” she wrote in the memo. “[T]hese tools are meant to help agencies identify strengths and weaknesses with industry partnerships so they can make internal improvements on the planning and making of contract awards.”
Acquisition 360 provides three different feedback questionnaires: one for industry to rate an agency’s acquisition process, and two others for program and project offices to rate one another’s internal acquisition performance.
“It’s really for the first time getting industry feedback on specific IT acquisitions,” Rung told FedScoop. “And then it becomes 360 because we’re also asking the program management offices to evaluate the contracting offices and vice versa.” This guidance builds upon earlier OFPP focuses, like those set forth in Rung’s December 2014 Transforming the Marketplace memorandum.
“We want to figure out where are we doing it well, and where are we perhaps not as strong,” Rung said.
Critical to Acquisition 360 is beginning-to-end communication between agencies and contractors during acquisition.
“It has long been the case where ineffective communication between federal agencies and vendors, amongst other complex processes, lead to unnecessary burden on vendors, higher government costs and unfavorable outcomes for taxpayers,” Rung wrote in a blog post.
That means Acquisition 360 asks for feedback during the pre-award and debriefing stages, giving agencies information they often don’t receive during traditional acquisitions. Rung said the question “How satisfied were you with the robustness of the agency’s debriefing?” was a big concern when creating this tool.
“One of the things we hear from industry is either the debriefing is less than stellar, or it’s nonexistent,” she told FedScoop. “And to me that’s a key.”
Elsewhere, the questionnaires ask about things like “the opportunity to propose unique and innovative solutions.” During the Acquisition 360 pilot, Rung said responses to that question came in with some of the lowest ratings.
“So if we see a pattern across government, we know we’re not writing the requirements the right way,” she said.
Within a month of this memo’s issuance, agencies must choose at least two of their largest IT acquisitions to retroactively perform these surveys. Agencies have until July 2015 to submit “an aggregate-level summary of data” to OFPP based on the results.
“Through this effort we hope agencies will have better, more actionable data that will help them improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the acquisition process so that we can partner with the best and most innovative companies and reduce the cost of the process for all stakeholders,” Rung wrote in her guidance. Likewise, OFPP will continue to refine the focuses and questions on the survey based on initial feedback.