OMB and GSA Tout Progress in Federal Agencies ‘Buying as One’

U.S. Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung U.S. Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung Commerce Department file photo

In the 10 months since the White House procurement policy chief announced a new push to consolidate contracts, the government as a whole has taken seven key steps in pursuit of category management, officials said on Wednesday.

“The more we work together to leverage our buying power, drive more consistent practices across our agencies, share information, and reduce duplication, the better the results for the American taxpayers,” wrote U.S. Chief Acquisition Officer Anne Rung and Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Tom Sharpe in a blogpost for the Office of Management and Budget.

Category management, an enterprise-wide approach to acquiring goods and services used in private industry and by other governments, has been developed by the General Services Administration. A December 2014 directive “Transforming the Federal Marketplace” broadened the interagency Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council’s charge to encompass category management, or “buying as one.” Officials renamed it the Category Management Leadership Council and divided the federal marketplace into 10 super categories of common items that include information technology, professional services and human capital. The goal is to make all categories functional by early 2016.

 The seven steps taken toward a governmentwide embrace of category management are:

  • A “single-source” guidance document that lays out the case for change, key agencies, managers and their roles in such tasks as conducting analyses of spending and supply chains, risk assessments and outreach to suppliers;
  • Elevating category management as one of the Obama administration’s 15 Cross-Agency Priority Goals as required by the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act (Rung worked with Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition and Logistics Frank Kendall on the sub-goals of using category management to boost savings, reducing the number of new contracts and raising the proportion of governmentwide spending under category management);
  • Enhanced content on GSA’s Acquisition Gateway, a new interactive online tool for the federal contracting workforce that contains key acquisition information and tools by category;
  • A new, more “mature” model for managing the governmentwide “spend” that includes metrics for tracking contract progress under way at agencies;
  • Naming of GSA, the Defense Department, OMB and the Office of Personnel Management to lead at least seven of the 10 new “Category Centers of Excellence;”
  • GSA’s launch in early October of the new single Professional Services Schedule giving federal agency acquisition professionals the ability to obtain total contract solutions for their professional services requirements using one, rather than eight contract vehicles (GSA estimates that removing duplication will eliminate more than 700 contracts for a five-year savings of $3.95 million and sustained savings of $1.29 million annually thereafter);
  • The recently-awarded government-wide blanket purchase agreements that steer agencies to an approved list of qualified contractors who can provide credit monitoring following the massive data breach of OPM personnel files revealed this June.

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