Who said that? Why, Dan Gordon, of course, on the eve of leaving his post as Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). A contracting officer told Dan that she was nervous to meet with industry because she did not want to get in trouble with ethics officials. "My answer to her was, if you need to, take five lawyers from your agency with you, but have the meetings. Lawyers are your friends," he admonished her. Dan was speaking in the context of his "lightbulb moment" when he decided to launch his mythbusters campaign, He vowed that Lesley Field, his successor, and the entire OFPP team would be continuing the mythbusting campaign which really hasn't taken hold in the field yet.
According to Dan, some people in government have legitimate complaints about vendors' marketing campaigns to which they really don't like to listen. So, there will be a second mythbusters campaign directed at contractors.
We all know the changes required by the mythbuster campaigns will be cultural. "But I'm convinced that the push for the mythbusters campaign for more communication, early communication, honest communication, full communication, will pay off for the government, but also for industry," Dan said on his way to his new post at George Washington University.
We are aware of activities to continue the mythbusting campaigns about which we will report in these blogs. Dan's replacement, Lesley Field, and her staff are the key players here. But each of us has a role. We ask you to go to www.actgov.org and www.bettergovernmentit.org and read what the American Council for Technology - Industry Advisory Council has written about better communication between government and industry. In an exhaustive work the Council has interviewed and surveyed many people in government and industry and has come up with a list of thirteen (13) action items to improve how we conduct business. Although the study had its genesis with the IT side of the house, the suggestions apply with equal force to all government contracting.
Too many lawyers? Not according to Dan. In government contracting, we submit lawyers are your very best friends. Don't be shy. We don't bite. And, those of us who have devoted our lives to improving the federal acquisition landscape nuture the process. We are not the obstructionists. We truly facilitate. In our opinion, there are not enough of us to go around in this, the most highly regulated and most complicated enterprise on earth.
And, contrary to popular culture, not all of us cost an arm and a leg.