RAPID ACQUISITION IS POSSIBLE, BUT REFORM TAKES TIME
GSA is working on incorporating commercial e-commerce tools to speed product acquisition. The project is expected to last for three years. DOD wants to reform acquisition. The Section 809 panel will take about three years to complete its work on that front. The Army wanted the capability to buy cyber defense solutions in 30 days. It took them one year to reform theiracquisition processes to meet that goal. Government and industry understand that federal acquisition needs to move faster for agencies to meet their missions. Not only does the pace of change in some segments, like cyber, require it, Congress now only gives agencies about half a year to initiate new projects. Yet, wanting to move quickly and actually moving quickly are two different things. It’s a little like untangling your Christmas lights. Once they get straightened out, man will they look good. In the meantime, however, you’re stuck with a Gordian knot. As difficult as it may sound, patience with the reform process is a necessity. As we’ve seen with commercial e-commerce tools, merely going out and doing your own thing can mean doing it wrong. That can be a disaster in government. Not only do agencies run the risk of over-spending or getting in IG trouble for not following the rules, the typical result is an over-correction that shuts down promising reforms and puts new burdens on top of existing ones. Your ball of Christmas lights just got 2X bigger. Tactical measures like OTA’s and other work-arounds can help short-term. Longer-term reforms take time. Not only should industry be patient, it should be actively engaged in the process. Whatever passes for federal holiday time really will be bright when the changes are made.