The Federal Acquisition Landscape is Morphing from All Sides

Published: September 05, 2018

Acquisition ReformAcquisition WorkforceContracting TrendsPolicy and Legislation

Multiple efforts seek to nudge the complex world of federal acquisitions toward greater efficiency and effectiveness, impacting federal contractors.

Deltek’s Federal Market Analysis team has been looking at the trends, policies and legislation shaping the procurement of goods and services by U.S. government agencies and has recently published our findings in a report, Federal Acquisition Landscape: Trends and Issues, 2018.  

Challenges and Change Driven by Multiple Forces

The federal acquisition environment is complex and consists of multiple factors that are both products and symptoms of the evolution of the federal acquisitions process over many decades. Challenges arise from workforce skill gaps in acquisitions and program management to contractor overruns.


From the White House to Congress, pressure is growing to streamline how federal agencies purchase billions of dollars in goods and services. Burdensome procurement rules are hindering the efficient acquisition of commercial services and capabilities that agencies need to accomplish their increasingly complex missions.

The President’s Management Agenda is shaping changes in civilian agency acquisitions, from category management, IT modernization and acquisition workforce improvements. The Department of Defense’s acquisition processes are under close scrutiny, given its size and scope. This is leading to new reforms, procurement methods and organizational structure.

Across government concerns about supply chain and cybersecurity are adding complexity to reform efforts, contributing to an acquisition environment that is constantly shifting, presenting challenges to large and small businesses alike.

Given these factors and others our analysis brought us to the following key findings:

  • Category management will have a significant impact on agencies’ preferred vehicles. Some agencies have already announced decisions to migrate work from agency IDIQs to BIC contracts at recompete.
  • DOD’s use of Other Transaction Authority is ramping up. Eleven other agencies are authorized to use OTAs, but it remains to be seen if they will use them more aggressively for IT prototype efforts.
  • Cybersecurity and supply chain security is embedded within requirements. Compliance may require contractor investment, but can also serve as a competitive differentiator.
  • DOD is slowing moving toward an e-commerce portal model for procuring commercial IT goods. This development could in some cases eliminate the need for commodity IT-centric contracting vehicles and/or IT resellers as products can be offered directly to DOD customers.
  • Policy and legislation are driving DOD to agile contracting processes that mirror agile software development. Be aware of these and how they can change the tempo of acquisitions.
  • Increased scrutiny on bid protests could lead to alternative protest mechanisms, changes to debriefing strategies and increased pre-RFP industry engagement.


Signs of a healthy market abound, even with the ongoing changes and challenges within the environment. Contract spending has been on the rebound after declines due to sequestration, with several market segments growing from FY 2015 to 2017.

Want to know more? Check out the full report: Deltek’s Federal Acquisition Landscape: Trends and Issues, 2018.