The Office of Federal Procurement Policy looks to Improve the Procurement Process

Published: February 07, 2020

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A brief overview of OFPP and how it is working to improve the current procurement process.

Within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) was founded by an act of Congress in 1974 to provide oversight of government-wide procurement policies, regulations and procedures and to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in acquisition processes. The OFPP administrator (currently Michael Wooten) is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The Administrator sets government-wide procurement policies and regulations via the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). Executive branch agencies are to follow the FAR in the procurement of:

  • property other than real property;
  • services, including research and development, and;
  • construction, alteration, repair, or maintenance of real property.

The government’s acquisitions procedures have been mostly static over the past 30 years leading to a slow-moving procurement system, often resulting in drawn-out procurements, confusing spending data, and an overall clouded procurement landscape. A new administrator is looking to improve the overall process. In April 2019, OFPP sent a legislative proposal to Congress intending to clean up some aspects of the procurement process. The following table outlines the six proposals the Office requested to be included as part of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Source: FY 2020 Proposal to Streamline and Improve the Agility and Efficiency of Federal Acquisition Processes., April 30, 2019

Since each of the proposals only addresses procurement policies and processes. There is no associated request for budgetary support and would not increase the funding requirements of any agency.

OFPP Proposals in the NDAA:

Not all of the proposals were included in the final NDAA. Of the six requests, only two were included in the final NDAA bill including:

Repeal of the Defense Cost Accounting Standards Board - The request to repeal the requirement of the Department of Defense to manage a Defense Cost Accounting Standards Board (CAS Board) was approved freeing up the department to support and strengthen the existing Cost Accounting Standards Board rather than spend the time and resources to maintain its own CAS Board.

Uniformity in Procurement Thresholds – The Uniformity in Procurement Thresholds proposals amended Section 4106(c) of title 41, United States Code, which previously stated a micro purchase threshold of $2,500. The change updated the micro purchase threshold in FY 20 NDAA to $10,000, which was previously adopted as part of the FY 18 NDAA.

The main proposal of the OMB/OFPP, the acquisition test programs, would have resulted in the creation of an Acquisition Test Board. The main responsibility of the board would have been to work with agencies to develop test programs that develop improvements of acquisitions using new, innovative, business processes. The key element of the test board was that the OFPP Administrator would have had the right to waive current acquisition/procurement laws, under a set of guidelines further described in the FY 2020 Proposal to Streamline and Improve the Agility and Efficiency of Federal Acquisition Processes., April 30, 2019. No waivers would be given under the following circumstances:

  • Laws that provide for criminal or civil penalties;
  • By American Laws;
  • Federal labor or employment laws;
  • The Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 631. et sq.; and
  • Federal environmental laws.

Congressional notification would have been required for acquisitions (including option years) expected to exceed $10 million a year for Civilian agencies and $50 million for DOD agencies. The total number of test programs were not to have exceeded 10 in FY 2020, 15 in FY 2021, and 20 in FY 2022.

No specific mention has been made of the exclusion of the Acquisition Test Board from NDAA, but concern over the policy waivers might have kept the proposal out of the final NDAA. The use of ‘lightly’ regulated types of procurements are already growing. For example, GovWin IQ is tracking an 81% increase in FPDS spending through Other Transaction Authority (OTA) acquisitions between FY 2018 and 2019, growing from $4.2 to $7.7 billion respectively.

OFPP’s Current Procurement Improvement Initiatives -

As it continues its effort to innovate the current procurement system, OFFP is looking beyond just government agencies for solutions and enlisting the help of private sector companies – seeking advice on how they gain the most value from their procurement spending. At a White House Summit on Federal Acquisition & Supply Chain Management OMB issued a challenge to industry to submit ideas to help government leverage acquisition and supply chain expertise. Suggestions are due to OMB by February 17.

Additionally, the OFPP is focusing efforts on continuing its Mythbuster Memo initiative. In this, the 4th installment of the Mythbuster Memo (Myth #4 – Strengthening Engagement with Industry Partners through Innovative Business Practices), OFPP is hoping to improve awareness of vendor engagement strategies. The office is asking each agency to designate a liaison to work with the agency’s Acquisition Innovation Advocate (AIA) and the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization (ODBSU). Previous Mythbuster Memos can be found on the OFPP Website.