Thursday, December 27, 2012


This is the third in a series of comments on the Professional Services Council (PSC) and Grant Thornton LLP study report on acquisition's unabated crisis.  Here, we suggest some antidotes for recovery.

  1. More Myth Busting.  The report quotes respondents to the survey as generally applauding the Office of Procurement Policy (OFPP) myth busting memos but they were "not widely distributed" and they "need to be pushed". They need to get "marketed".  Not only that, OFPP needs to write more of them.  And senior procurement professionals need to help by suggesting new myth busting topics.  Myth busting is the singular most important and potentially effective initiative undertaken in the procurement field in decades. 
  2. Institute a Help Hotline.  We've considered a mentor/protege program with retirees serving as mentors and rejected it as impracticable and unworkable.  However, a well-designed and properly administered help hotline has a real chance of success.  Well-screened retiree volunteers could handle requests for advice and counsel based on their particular field of experience and expertise.  
  3. Fix the Debriefing Debacle.  The myth busing memos just didn't go far enough.  It's time to require oral debriefings and to enforce the regulation on what's discussed.  And finally, it is time to release redacted copies of the source selection evaluation board report and the source selection decision prior to the debriefing.  Enough is enough.  Transparency begins here.
  4. Fix the LPTA Debacle.  The pendulum has swung back to advertised procurement now know as sealed bidding.  Best value is not LPTA.  LPTA is tantamount to sealed bidding.  Follow the tried and true rules in FAR.  Get rid of LPTA in Part 15 and call a spade a spade.  If the goal is lowest price, technically acceptable, use Part 14.
  5. Educate the Lawyers.  One participant in the PSC/Grant Thornton survey said the myth busting memos "had a positive effect because we had general counsels saying, 'no, you can't talk to contractors at all.'"  We know because we've been there.  In house lawyers can be facilitators or obstructionists.  We believe too many lawyers are the latter.  They need to go to school taught by non lawyers who explain what clients are looking for.  Their clients want them to act as facilitators.  They should be helping their clients.  They also need help on how to negotiate.
  6. Train by the Case Study Method.  Law schools have been doing it forever.  The only way to learn is by the case study method.  In procurement, we have the opportunity to train by real life case studies.  Experience is the best teacher.  Next best is training by reviewing and analyzing actual cases.  
We've heard from the cynics who badmouth the myth buster memos.  But they are a small minority and insignificant in their negative influence.  We applaud the leadership of OFPP.  They are the thinkers and the writers.  It's up to the rest of us to follow through.  Senior procurement executives must discharge their leadership responsibility by making sure the OFPP messages are carried out in the field. Neophytes need the initiative to follow OFPP's best practice guides (that's really what the myth buster memos are).

Hopefully, we will see more myth buster memos.  As for the other antidotes, let us know what you think.

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