OMB Releases First Set of Actions Pertaining to Procurement

Published: June 20, 2017

Acquisition ReformOMB

A look into the procurement regulations affected by OMB’s first set of eliminations and modifications to government directives.

Dated June 15, 2017, OMB released a memorandum to the heads of executive branch in what it called “action to identify low-value, duplicative, and obsolete activities that can be ended.” The document is directly in line with the current administration’s goals of shrinking government regulation and operating it in a more effective and efficient manner. OMB identified various requirements in management areas such as IT, acquisition, and financial and real property management.

The end purpose? OMB states that it wants to give government entities the chance to refocus efforts on activities with higher priorities. Moreover, it will begin “providing relief to agencies by rolling back these requirements and allowing those who know their agencies best – agency managers – manage operations, adopt best practices, and find the best way possible to reduce costs and minimize staff hours responding to duplicative and burdensome reporting requirements.”

The memorandum is broken down by type of action: eliminated, modified and paused in the areas of IT, financial management, procurement, performance management, customer service, program management. IT appears to have the most eliminated requirements. The memorandum discards of various IT guidance pertaining to IT security as well as management and oversight, citing duplication with current regulations such as FISMA and FITARA. Obsolete policies such as the Y2K memos related to the widespread theory of IT disruption at the time are also abolished.  

However, zooming in on the procurement-related actions, the memorandum affects the following regulations that impact governmental functions dealing with acquisitions:  

  • Eliminated
    • Implementation Guidance for Executive Order (EO) 13502 on Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects – a reporting requirement in which agencies submitted quarterly reports to OMB on large-scale construction projects valued over $25 million.
    • Improving the Collection and Use of Information about Contractor Performance and Integrity – a 100% reporting target for agencies to submit past performance information on awards above the simplified acquisition threshold. OMB will address a more efficient management strategy on reporting past performance information on risk-related actions in the future.
  • Modified
    • Streamlining of Business Case Process – the requirement dating September 2011 mandated agencies to develop a business case when using certain inter-agency and agency-specific contracts. The new process is modified in the following streamlined structure which will be piloted between August 1, 2017 through March 1, 2019 to observe effectiveness:
      • Informed Analysis – for procurements above $50 million, the agency will review relevant performance and pricing information for duplication.
      • Upfront Engagement – the agency submits a new standardized template to OMB for reasoning why the requirement cannot be completed using an existing contract.
      • Facilitated Collaboration – OMB will discuss and evaluate submission with the respective Federal Category Manager.
      • Optimization of Results – if an existing vehicle is not found the agency will “provide: 1) prices paid and performance information on the Prices Paid Portal and Acquisition Gateway; 2) agency spend compliance and savings, and 3) other information as requested by OMB.”
  • Paused
    • Reporting Requirement for Conducting Acquisition Assessments under OMB Circular A-123 - a requirement for entity level internal control reviews of acquisition functions with the goal of unifying those assessment efforts with existing agency processes. This is on hold until FY 2020 to allow agencies to focus on reorganization initiatives.
    • Reporting Requirement for Circular No. A-126, Improving the Management and Use of Government Aircraft, Section 10 ( c ) – a bi-annual summary report to OMB on the non-mission travel by senior officials, their families and acquaintances.  The requirement is currently on hold until this section can officially be eliminated from the Circular.
    • Reporting Requirement for Circular No. A-131, Value Engineering, Section VIII – a required report to OMB on use of value engineering as a management tool to reduce cost. The requirement is currently on hold until this section can officially be eliminated from the Circular. Instead, value engineering practices will now be overseen by a designated senior official.

It seems as though the “low hanging fruit” of guidance has been picked in this first phase of regulation trimming. However, over the next year, OMB promises to work with other branches of the government and central management agencies such as GSA and OPM to identify further “low-value, duplicative requirements.” Furthermore, it will seek to re-examine its own process to issuing guidance to agencies to make it more efficient. From there, OMB intends to develop a long-term solution for reviewing and rescinding guidance.