OFPP to test employee swaps

Monday - 3/28/2011, 4:40pm EDT

Rob Burton, former OFPP administrator

Click to hear the interview.

Download mp3

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is testing an employee swap.

The idea is to trade one of your acquisition experts to another agency in exchange for one who knows more about a specific procurement need you have. OFPP plans to launch the talent exchange program sometime later this year.

The swap is a great idea but will run into some challenges, said Rob Burton, partner at Venable law firm and the former OFPP administrator.

For one, agencies are facing number crunching - and giving up an employee for a period of time may not sound very attractive as Congress proposes ways to further hack agency budgets.

"Agencies love to get free labor but they don't like to give labor up. Everybody's stretched thin," Burton said.

Also, sending detailees requires paperwork - a lot of it, Burton said. For the program to succeed, agencies will have to "get rid of bureaucracy," he said. "Somehow they're going to have to streamline that process to make this a success."

Agencies will also get into the debate about how long an employee will be on detail.

"If it's just a couple of weeks, it's not really considered worth it," he said.

Most likely, the Federal Acquisition Institute will lead a swap effort between acquisition officers, Burton said.

If an agency-to-agency exchange program is successful, Burton argued that an industry-government swap could be the next step. But he said, realistically, "I'm afraid it's never going to happen."

"A lot of agencies don't want industry people roaming the halls. They feel there's a conflict of interest situation," Burton said.

RELATED LINK

Notice of proposal in Federal Register

RELATED LINK

Notice of proposal in Federal Register