Making best-in-class contracts better for innovation

  • Making best-in-class contracts better for innovation

    Posted by on December 24, 2020 at 12:20 AM

    In recent years, federal acquisition policy and practice has been a competition between two different priorities: Efficiency and innovation. Instead of balancing these priorities, innovation has taken the backseat, denying agencies access to companies that can deliver transformational solutions.

    The Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration have an opportunity to implement several straightforward changes that can address these competing priorities.

    A recent report from the Government Accountability Office provided several recommendations for OMB and GSA to improve their category management initiative, which oversees efforts such as the best-in-class contracts (BIC). While most of the GAO recommendations focused on improving guidance around category management, better defining requirements, acquisition workforce training and cost savings, what was left unaddressed was how OMB and GSA can improve the most important outcomes — delivering the best and most innovative product and service solutions to agency customers and citizens.

    Category management has pushed government agencies to buy more like a single enterprise. This focus has prioritized driving savings and efficiency by eliminating redundancy by developing more useful governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs), such as BICs. However, having a too narrow focus on streamlining and scale sacrifices the more important priority of attracting more innovative, non-traditional companies to the federal market. That focus — long championed by organizations like the Alliance for Digital Innovation — has pushed the government to leverage inventive acquisition authorities, prioritize commercial capabilities over onerous and restrictive requirements, and encourage speed

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