[Reprint from Medium.com]
Author: Steve Kelman
An unlikely band of revolutionaries has proposed major changes in how the Department of Defense chooses what contractors to do business with. These change agents are members of the Section 809 panel on streamlining and codifying acquisition regulations, set up by Congress in 2016. They include a number of well-known names in the contracting world, several of whom I have known since myself serving as the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the nineties.
That latter group includes David Drabkin, the committee chair (who worked on acquisition reform at DOD as a civil servant and later spent many years at GSA); retired Gen. Darryl Scott (maybe the best contracting professional I ever met — I wanted him to be my successor, but that was impossible while he was in uniform); Allan Burman (my predecessor); and Elliott Branch (head of contracting at the Navy).
The lead on the source selection portion of the report was Charlie Williams, who retired a few years ago as a senior DOD civil servant after a number of jobs including director of the Defense Contract Management Agency. This part of the report hasn’t been discussed much; for example it was unmentioned in FCW’s article on the issuance of the report.
The report has recommendations in many areas, and I would probably need at least five blog posts to discuss them all. I will concentrate here on the recommendations on how the government does source selection for DOD buying — the process of choosing to whom to give a contract. This currently is a resource-intensive activity for government, with RFPs, proposals, and proposal evaluation, as well as the possibility of bid protests on the government’s decision. It is also at the center of how contractors do their job in interacting with the government. Source selection is a big deal.
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