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Better Buy Project Conference Call

30 mins read

Military Information Technology Magazine: Could you talk a little bit about some of the things that you are doing in the Office of the Assisted Acquisition Services and you strategy and how that dovetails with Better Buy?

Mary Davie:  The Office of Assisted Acquisition Services provides entire life cycle acquisition assistance to other federal agencies for IT and professional services needs.  We do almost $4 billion a year with other agencies and we are working with just about every federal agency across, not only the country but other places in the world.  The group is about 300 or 350 people.  Where I kind of came from in all of this was I wanted a better way to connect my own folks internally so I had a separate internal collaboration effort going so that people could learn and share from each other.  I think GSA is in a really neat place simply because we sort of sit in the middle of government and help agencies and are able to use what we have done for one agency potentially with another agency.  I am always about sharing, reusing, learning and applying those to improve what we do for other federal agencies as we move forward.  This is exactly the kind of thing I want to be doing internally in AAS and the group that’s going to be applying the ideas that we identify in the acquisitions are part of AAS.  For me it is not only testing the ideas and seeing how things are going but also what can we do to improve the way we deliver service to the federal community and how can these ideas help us do that.  We are going to help start with some GSA acquisitions and then depending on how those things go and what the outcomes are like there might be, and hopefully there will be opportunities to apply these to other acquisitions as we . . . I don’t want to learn on other federal agency acquisitions but we want to learn and then apply what we learn and continue to improve.  It dovetails exactly with what I want to be doing in AAS.

ExecutiveBiz: The site has moved pretty quickly.  Will you leave the site up after you publish the results and pick the ideas you want to use?  When does phase 2 begin when you finalize the pick?

Mary Davie: We are actually in the selection process now of some ideas but we see this as an evolution and an interim process so we don’t have a defined period of time that the site will be up or when it will come down.  It really will just depend on the ideas that we will continue to get or the ideas we will continue to try to apply and then again letting people know how that is going.  We kind of see this as continuing to evolve and open ended depending on the interest we can continue to generate and the ideas that can get posted and how we can continue to look at those and apply those.

Dan Munz: I’ll just say one of the things I am really proud of about this project is that we have focused on building a process not just a website and that is something that is very much due to Mary’s leadership.  Because of that what we’ve been able to do is not just have a fun or interesting exercise but really fill something that is a need that is experienced across government which is a place for folks to come and begin incubating ideas, adapting what they do and how government works and what they can do better.  While there is the dimension to this that has in its scope improving the acquisition process and the use of collaboration and the use of social media I think also at right angles to that there is an important dimension to that that says how you set up a space and build an office around it people can come together and improve government.  That is something that we see as having utilities far beyond the short term.  We are really hoping that on two fronts we can both improve federal acquisition and make it more transparent and make it more accessible but also model to people throughout government even if they are dealing with a topic that is not at all acquisition focused to use this kind of model as a way to incubate innovations and grow innovations.  That is something that I really would emphasize because it is an important part of what we are doing.

Military Information Technology Magazine: Are there any other agencies that are trying stuff like this or are you pretty much the first?

Dan Munz: I am happy to say that there are more and more agencies that are recognizing that the way to solve problems isn’t to turn inward and say ‘what do we think the answer is’ but to turn outward and say ‘who can we bring together to help us find the answer’.  TSA I think is a model of doing that internally.  I know that we’ve worked with some agencies.  We just finished some work with DHS leading the engagement for their quadrennial security review and that’s a great example of doing this as well.  You can find that at www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org although that is now closed.  The thing that I think distinguishes this project a little bit and I think is really great is it really is something that originated as kind of a push for change in government that came from outside government.  It started on govloop which is an amazing social network but not a dotgov site.  It really is just practitioners from across government getting together and saying we should do this but working together with other organizations that are doing better by working together.  We really worked hard to take that impetus and move it inside and sync it up with what government is actually doing.  This is one of the first times that I could really think of where people got together outside government and said we want this opportunity to have feedback and then government took that seriously and executed against it.  That is really powerful.

Dan Munz: I wanted to give you an update on some of the numbers we have seen.  Since launching this site has been visited over 3,000 times, it has had over 10,000 page views which we think is really cool.  We have the ability to see geographically where folks are coming from and we’ve had visits from nearly all fifty states.  We are still just waiting on South Dakota, Mississippi and Maine but other than that folks from all fifty states have showed up.  That includes 495 different cities throughout the country which is another thing that we are proud of.  One thing that always occurs to me when I go look at these metrics is there are other customers for the acquisition process other than people that are in the federal government; either running the process or trying to navigate it.  Certainly in this economy there are people whose businesses and livelihoods depend on their ability to understand how to partner with the government and how to deliver their services and get the government to be a smart and effective buyer of those services.  One of the impacts that I am really proud of is that this is something that is reaching outside of Washington to where there are real small business people and real business owners and there is so much commerce happening and people are trying to partner with government and are wanting to be able to do that effectively.  I think we are contributing to that.

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