USDS launches TechFAR Hub tool for digital acquisitions
The White House’s U.S. Digital Service created a collection of new online educational resources and tools to help agencies with their digital acquisitions.
Called the TechFAR Hub, the tools and resources are meant to help procurement personnel depart from the waterfall development methods, complex specifications and inflexible contracts that often lead to ineffective IT acquisitions.
“Using the TechFAR Hub, acquisition professionals and other stakeholders in digital acquisition can discover resources that describe successful practices, discuss these ideas with other members of the community, get digital IT support through step-by-step aides built by agency experts, and then share what they learned with the community,” says a White House blog post co-authored by USDS Administrator Mikey Dickerson and U.S. Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung.
The platform takes it name from the TechFAR Handbook, which the USDS released in 2014 to help agencies procure digital services in an agile manner within the legal boundaries of the Federal Acquisition Regulation. The hub, officially announced Tuesday, has been in the works for more than a year — Rung first mentioned its development during a keynote at an ACT-IAC event in March 2015.
Though it has a public-facing alpha website, the hub is meant to serve as a set of resources and tools on the General Services Administration’s Acquisition Gateway — an online repository and portal for federal personnel to explore existing acquisition information and solutions, collaborate on best practices, and make more effective and efficient buying decisions in line with category management.
GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth previewed the launch of the TechFAR Hub over the weekend during a keynote at the National Contract Management Association’s World Congress 2017.
Roth, in that speech, said the hub will help agency contracting personnel apply industry best practices to the world of digital service acquisition across the federal government, according to her prepared remarks.
The TechFAR Hub’s tools and templates, in particular, are meant to help “acquisition professionals transition from learning about best practices to using them,” the White House post says. One such tool is the Agile Solicitation Builder, which allows program managers and contracting officers to answer a set of questions, and then generates an agile solicitation in plain language based on the joint response.
“This gives contracting professionals and their agency counsel a tool for becoming more proficient and efficient and an opportunity to move away from outdated templates that may be burdensome and duplicative,” the blog says.
The TechFAR Hub is also open source on GitHub, allowing users to explore the underlying code and submit any issues with the platform directly to its developers on the USDS team.