One thing is clear: The reforms require the partnership of industry and the private sector to succeed, and to do that, the feds and their partner companies need to work on their communication issues.
So said Dan Gordon, administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, who joined Kundra in a Q&A session following the CIOâs presentation.
Gordon has been tasked with leading a âmyth bustersâ campaign to clear up some of the confusion surrounding federal IT contracts, part of efforts to engage with the private sector more.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks is the fact that many in the government are fearful of talking to companies because they think could lead to bid protests or accusations of unfairness.
But Gordon wasnât having any of it.
âWeâve got to get past that, folks,â he said.
Gordon said it makes no sense for government contract offices not to be in communication with companies as agencies post request-for-proposals. RFPs are often vague, he said, and companies sit around board meetings playing guessing games, trying to figure out what exactly the government wants.
Often, an award is based solely on the initial proposal with little communication. With no discussions, âweâre leaving money on the table,â he said incredulously.
Kundra and Gordon are also banking on another aspect of OMBâs federal IT strategy to help loosen government tongues.
OMB and OFPP will launch a new, online interactive platform to help foster collaboration at all contracting stages.
If nothing else, it will make government motives clear, Kundra said.
âWe need to be crystal clear about what our requirements are, and crystal clear when something isnât working,â he added.
Gordon looked out at the audience and said it was emblematic of the connections that need to be forged in contracting: between government and industry, from the program shops and IT fields to contracting offices.
âWeâve got be integrating from day one,â he added.
The answer, Gordon said, echoing earlier remarks by Kundra, doesnât lie in extending any new authorities but simply returning to the basics.
âWe need to take advantage of the flexibilities we have,â he said.
Itâs not a matter of new regulations or new statues, he added.
âWe need communication,â he said. âWe need it early, and we need it often.â