Stimulus to bring new acquisition challenges

Wednesday - 2/18/2009, 3:20pm EST

By Brian Drew
Internet Editor,
Federal News Radio

The president signed the $787 billion stimulus package into law Tuesday afternoon. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va) told Tom Temin and Jane Norris on Tuesday that he had concerns about whether the government has enough procurement personnel to deal with all the money coming from the stimulus package.

Robert Burton, former deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and currently with the Venable law firm, told Amy Morris and Chris Dorobek on the Daily Debrief that he had similar concerns.

This is not really good news for the acquisition workforce, because it's another unprecedented event... It follows other events that have been unprecedented; events such as 9-11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the acquisition workforce has had to respond to all of these unprecedented events in really five or six years, and I'm just not sure how it can respond to the stimulus challenge as well. It's still really just trying to cope with some of the challenges it's been trying to deal with for the past five years.

Burton says that Congress should appropriate more funds for acquisition, and that more attention needs to paid to the acquisition planning stages.

"Something's got to give," says Burton. "I do think the acquisition workforce needs some appropriations attention here."

Burton added that there has been great strides in the training arena of the acquisition workforce, but the government needs to view it in a different light.

The first thing the government needs to do is treat it as a profession, and I think we've made a lot of progress in that regard, but we've got a long way to go. Another challenge here is that Congress doesn't like the definition of inherently governmental, and they've asked OFPP to take a look at that definition. They clearly want to broaden it out, and that's going to create more of a challenge for the acquisition workforce, because that means a lot of work may be have to be brought back in that is being done by the private sector currently.

Burton says that the government will be relying more on the private sector in the future to meet some of the acquisition challenges.

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