Administration encourages communication with contractors

Federal acquisition officials need to interact with industry more while writing solicitations and negotiating contracts, the Obama administration's procurement chief said on Friday.

For years, agency contracting officers have been afraid to meet with vendors for fear of sparking bid protests, causing delays, or committing potential ethical violations, said Dan Gordon, administrator of federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget. But, the lack of interaction could be causing the government to pay higher prices, or to provide poorly defined contract requirements, he said.

On Wednesday, Gordon's office released a 13-page memorandum that attempts to bust 10 widely held misconceptions about contractor communications.

"For much too long, the emphasis has been on the [contracting] 'don'ts,' " Gordon said during an afternoon conference call with reporters. "This is an effort to highlight to 'dos.' "

For example, the memo dispels the notion that communication with a bidder could result in a competing firm filing a protest. Gordon said there is no way to make a contract "protest-proof" and such efforts are not only a poor use of contracting officials' time, but also could also deprive the government of potentially useful information.

The memo was the result of months of meetings with procurement officials, industry leaders, agency contract attorneys and ethics officials, Gordon said. The document, which does not require statutory or regulatory changes, can be adjusted as time goes on, he said. Additional outreach with government and industry officials is expected in the coming months.

Although there will be no concrete way for determining the initiative's success, Gordon said he hopes contracting officials use the enhanced communication to develop more reasoned statements of work and contract solicitations.

"If we can prevent one procurement from going off the rails," he said, "it will be worth it."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.