Issue: The Relationship between Buyers, Acquirers, and Suppliers is increasingly silo-ed and divisive versus engaged in collaborative problem solving.
Recent events and articles have highlighted the need for increased collaboration and alignment between business/IT sponsors, procurement organizations, and suppliers/contracts. PSC’s Commission Report, “From Crisis to Opportunity”, as well as NCMA’s recent article, “Becoming a Strategic Partner: Leveraging the Acquisition Life Cycle and a Perfect Storm for Change”, both underscore the need for recognizing the importance of fostering collaborative touchpoints throughout the defined acquisition life cycle. The current acquisition environment actually fosters fear of collaboration with heightened concerns of protests, and it often finds procurement as an administrative function at the end of the process. This environment leads to misaligned contract requirements and unreasonable expectations of supplier responses, thereby predetermining contract performance failures, schedule and cost overruns, and lack of innovation brought to bear. As a result of this collaboration gap, the winners are those that are “perceived” as least risky, able to comply with RFP and contract requirements, and know how to game the system versus those that produce the outcomes that matter.
Recommendation: In the near term, treat collaboration among customers, acquisition, and suppliers as a process not an event by recognizing the critical, high-value touchpoints necessary to problem solve and foster alignment of all three parties’ strategic goals. Active alignment and collaboration will address many of the symptoms at the heart of industry concerns including award criteria (LPTA vs. best value), redundant/duplicative contract requirements, procurement methods (IDIQs, BPAs, MAS, etc.), pricing structure, and more. Longer term, OFPP and the CAO must look at the human capital dilemma facing today’s acquisition workforce and the transformation required to revitalize a sustainable, outcome oriented service function.