Jordan makes his case for being next OFPP administrator

Wednesday - 5/9/2012, 6:00pm EDT

Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Radio

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Joe Jordan defended his qualifications Wednesday to be the next administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. But the concerns may be less about Jordan and more about the shoes he has to fill.

Jordan, who currently is a senior adviser to Jeff Zients, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, would replace Dan Gordon, who spent more than 20 years in federal procurement. Jordan also has less experience than the previous five OFPP administrators.

"It's crucial that the administrator has a strong knowledge of and experience with the federal procurement system, and the leader of the office must also have credibility with a broad range of stakeholders and having followed procurement issues for decades, I know how challenging this position is," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "I've also personally known the last five or even more OFPP administrators. Some senators have raised questions about whether or not you have sufficient experience for this job."

Jordan said he recognizes Gordon and the others before him brought a wealth of experience to the job.

"Why do I think I have the appropriate qualifications and experience for this job especially at this time which is particularly crucial given all the forces being brought to bear in the acquisition system? My experiences in the private sector and the public sector make me uniquely qualified for the administrator this position right now," he said. "In the private sector, I worked with various companies, state governments and other entities on procurement and supply chain management issues, specifically on things like strategic sourcing and other ways to buy smarter and use data to drive analytics to lower costs and improve value. That's a big element I think I can bring to bear here."

Jordan said he also oversaw small-business contracting for the government while at SBA and saw almost $100 billion in prime contracts go to small firms. He also led a team of several hundred policy and contracting experts.

"An amalgamation of all those experiences lends itself quite well to the administrator of OFPP position at this time," he said.

Collins said she is not one of those senators doubting his qualifications.

President Barack Obama nominated Jordan in February to replace Gordon. Gordon retired to become the associate dean of the George Washington School of Law in December.

Beyond laying out his qualifications, Jordan detailed his priorities as administrator. They focus on three specific areas:

  • Ensure agencies are buying smarter by analyzing data to help develop and implement policies. Plus, increase the use of strategic sourcing to better take advantage of the government's buying power. "We must accelerate the application of lessons learned from these experiences and augment them with private-sector best practices so that agencies may increase savings for many of their other goods and services," Jordan said.

  • Ensure agencies are doing business only with "responsible parties with appropriate ethics and business integrity," and increase prime and subcontracts to small and disadvantaged businesses. "We must redouble our effort to document and share past performance information so the intended benefit of motivating and rewarding good performance is fully realized," Jordan said. "Just as it is important to reward high performing businesses, it's also important to make sure taxpayers dollars are not put at risk in the hands of contractors who are not responsible sources. Our agencies must be prepared to give appropriate consideration to suspension and debarment to fight the waste and abuse of bad actors and maintain the public's trust in our system."

  • Continue investing in the acquisition workforce, including better training. "I will work closely with agency chief acquisition officers and senior procurement executives and our federal training institutions to identify training needs and make sure we are making appropriate training investment in all of our acquisition professionals," he said. "This includes not just essential contracting officers, but also contracting officer representatives, who are responsible for contract management, and program and project managers, who are instrumental in acquisition planning and the development of contract requirements."

In answers to his pre-hearing questions, Jordan also offered more insights into his priorities. When asked about the acquisition workforce, he said he would create service-level agreements between the General Services Administration, the Federal Acquisition Institute and OFPP to establish roles and responsibilities. He also would work with FAI to share training programs across government. Currently, FAI is surveying agencies about their acquisition training programs.

When it comes to the blended workforce, Jordan said the departments of Defense and Homeland Security also have developed guidance to measure the cost of contractor performance as compared to federal employee costs to determine who makes the most sense.