Posted on 12/23/2011 7:39 AM

Yesterday, Dave Grover, Pete White, Gail Young, Jen Wiley and I, (as members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Government Contracting Council) met with Dan Gordon on the eve of his departure as Administrator of the President's Office of Procurement Policy (OFPP).  We expressed our concern about the disconnect between policy and practice regarding OFPP's myth-busting memorandum on communications between industry and government contracting officials. We gave him some examples of how sometimes, even often, contracting officers are reluctant to engage in open discussions with industry representatives. 

We spoke of how debriefings often are minimal efforts to explain the reasons for source selection.  Dan responded by saying contracting officials should not be seeking the minimum level of communication. He said they should strive for the maximum level of disclosure and discussion.

We did not have time to go into other issues such as misuse of fixed priced contracts and best value procurements which are actually awarded on the basis of technical leveling and award to contractors which have underbid and can't perform.

We asked that Dan pass on to his successor (with whom we also plan to meet) our concerns and suggestions for improvement.  He agreed and also offered his continued involvement in his new post at the George Washington University Law School.  We expect to continue the dialogue with Dan as well.

We proposed that OFPP issue a "Best Practices" Guide for contracting officers which includes specific directions on communications with contractors and proper use of contract types and source selection methods.  We also suggested that OFPP issue a memorandum to procurement agencies requiring a training module for instruction of contracting officials designed to educate them on the "Best Practices" in the Guide. 

We also enlisted his aid in setting up opportunities for dialogues between industry and government contracting representives.  Dan agreed that by doing this, money could saved to the great benefit of the taxpayers.  He expressed some pride in the success of  his "Front Line Forum" during which he would communicate directly with contracting personnel in the field.  Dan assured us his successor would continue to carry through with all the initatives he has started.

We are losing the best Administrator we have had, in our opinion.  However, we are very optimistic that his successor and the entire OFPP staff are dedicated to continuing Dan's leadership and immense contributions to our acquisition community.




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#1 - Posted on Friday, December 23, 2011 2:17:03 PM by Dave Grover

Bill, this is an excellent recap of our meeting. I believe it can become the first step in efforts to close the communication gap. Thanks.

#2 - Posted on Friday, December 23, 2011 8:51:57 PM by Laura Meeks

Bill, great to read about your meeting. It scares me how fearful contracting officers have become when talking to industry. Acquisition works best when there is dialogue. I like the example of a guy coming into the store to buy a van. The salesman sells him and van then asks why he decided on a van. They buyer then says it is to move refridgerators! Wow.. if they had just had a discussion before the purchase he might have purchased a pickup instead and been happier! Without discussion the government is buying things for their government clients only to find out what they bought won't work! If only they would talk!!! I like what Dan said... "if you need to, bring your lawyers, but HAVE THE MEETINGS!!!

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