Talkin' Procurement

Do your office mates doze off when you start talking about source selection? When you bring up performance-based contracting in a conversation, does that familiar glazed-over look take hold of your cubicle partner?

If the analog world is not meeting your need for useful conversations about procurement, it's time to get digital, and head to the Acquistion Reform Net, or ARNet. There, in the Electronic Forum discussion area, procurement specialists and officials gather from throughout cyberspace to talk about everything from government purchase cards to funding IDIQ contracts to the overall goals of public procurement.

"It's just sort of like being at work and hearing someone talking about something you're interested in," says one user. "Your ears perk up and you get involved in the discussion."

Comments are being solicited on the site to proposed changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Steven Kelman, director of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which launched ARNet, says the discussion is the first time he knows of that people can make unmediated comments electronically on a proposed rule.

The site has four key sections in addition to the Electronic Forum:

  • The Reference Corner has links to procurement regulations, executive orders, and other documents.
  • Business Opportunities is a list of links to other procurement sites.
  • Acquisition Best Practices is a searchable database of procurement reform success stories.
  • Acquisition Training links to the Federal Acquisition Institute, providing curriculum materials for procurement professionals.
Questions about who was in charge of ARNet left much of the site irregularly updated and expanded last year. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory built ARNet for the National Performance Review and launched it in June 1995. The center's manager, Barbara Davis, says NPR took longer than expected to find a home for ARNet.

NPR recently found a sponsor for ARNet, after it spent a year residing on a Lawrence Livermore server. Last July, the General Services Administration took responsibility for ARNet, committing to provide hardware and full-time staff for the site. A team of development and technical experts from NPR, GSA, the Federal Acquisition Institute and the National Academy of Public Administration now assist in maintaining and updating ARNet.

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