March 28, 2010 - April 3, 2010 Archives
- Fixing Washington: asking the right questions to buy stuff
By Craig Newmark -
On his first day in office, President Obama challenged leaders in government to "use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector." The acquisition process represents one of the most important areas of collaboration between government and the private sector.
Unfortunately, it is also among the most complex and least transparent. The Better Buy Project is an experiment dedicated to the belief that there's a lot of room for improvement in the way government buys products and services. We're testing this hypothesis by asking for your ideas on how to make acquisition process more open, transparent and collaborative.
The best part of this project is that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) GSA would really like to adopt some of your best ideas. Promising ideas will be selected by GSA to be piloted on an upcoming acquisition, where lessons learned will be captured for future implementation. But that really depends on us, and the ideas we're able to produce.
This project is concerned primarily with the pre-contract-award stages of the acquisition process—the activities that take place before the government "signs on the dotted line" to buy a product or service. Those areas are:
The ultimate goal is to improve how government learns about and chooses what it buys—in other words, to make government a more informed, more effective consumer.
We are looking for ideas to make federal acquisition more open, transparent, and collaborative. What does that mean?
We believe that making the process more open, transparent and collaborative will make government more likely to end up with the right item at the right price.Close Window
The General Services Administration buys a lot of stuff (products and services) for the country, and they're figuring out how to help us all get what we pay for.
Overall, the GSA's trying to figure out how to break from traditional bureaucracy, learning from private industry and the public, asking people what they think via a site BetterBuy.
One really good idea from BetterBuy is being tried now.
The GSA wants to break away from the traditional system where the companies that provide the stuff help specify what the stuff should be. Normally, they put out Requests for Information and Requests for Proposals, and companies help the GSA figure out what to specify.
That means the companies that want the business gets to define what the business is, and can tailor that to their strengths and weaknesses. Any change to this could threaten the less effective, less competitive businesses.
The deal is to open up this process to everyone, including the public and the companies who want business from the Feds, so that we can work together for the country. One way to do that is on the Net using a Wiki, and that's what they've created, the BetterBuy Pilot(s) Wiki.
GSA is seeking input on a requirement to provide a data repository for data.gov. The data.gov pilot was ready to launch on March 25, 2010. The second is called "Clearpath". For this one, GSA is looking for input on the technical infrastructure for our Clearpath hosting, and developing the approach for a future acquisition. GSA will launch Clearpath in a few weeks.
You are invited to contribute in multiple ways:
(1) Help us write the draft solicitation
(2) Ask questions below each section
(3) Engage in meaningful technical debate below each section
(4) Point out mistakes
(5) Ask general questions
(6) Contribute! This is the most transparent acquisition that GSA FEDSIM has ever attempted.
For better explanations check out Federal Computer Week GSA tries wiki approach to develop RFPs or GSA solicits wisdom of the crowd for acquisition improvements