April 11, 2010 - April 17, 2010 Archives
- Commentary from the Wiki Phase of the BetterBuy pilot
By Chris Hamm -
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
GSA FEDSIM has two BetterBuy pilots underway: Data.gov and ClearPath. The experience so far has been interesting. On my end, there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty leading up to the launch. Will the wiki work? Will people know how to use it? Can the server handle all the traffic? Will one or two voices dominate the discussion?
Several months worth of effort went into the launch. When we finally went live, I was anxious to see the response. And at first, nothing happened. . . . .
A few individuals created user names, but didn't change anything.
A few more folks provided free 'editing' services, correcting typos, spelling out acronyms, and correcting verb tense.
Finally, after about a week, we started to see meaningful discussions and contributions on the wiki. I was curious about why it took so long, so I asked a few users about their process. It turns out that industry had the same questions that I had. No one was sure who was 'authorized' to speak for their company. Normal procedures for providing a response to the Government for these companies are established, and this wiki threw a wrench in the works. It took a few days for them to develop a plan on how to response. One company even wanted to know when we were going to lock down the changes so that they could post their info at the last minute.
From my perspective, the Data.gov use of the wiki was a resounding success. We received a substantial amount of feedback, and our resulting solicitation will be significantly improved as a result. It will, however, take us longer to review the feedback and judge what should go into the final version. Now I'd like to see more attention on the ClearPath wiki. . . .
Lastly, I'll end my post with some wiki statistics:
(All pages in the wiki, including talk pages, redirects, etc.) -49
Page edits since BetterBuy was set up -373
Average edits per page -7.61
Registered users 152
Active users who have performed an action in the last 7 days -33
Views total 68,718 (misleading number - includes our testing)
Views per edit 184.23
Main Page -46,304
Background and Questions -3,143
Section B - 1,717
Section C - 1,694
RFI - 1,468
Section D - 1,097
Section F - 849
Section H - 714