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Shows & Panels
Inside the World's Biggest Buyer
The federal government takes more than $1 trillion per year to operate, with nearly half of its operating budget spent on the acquisition of goods and services. Congress, executive branch political leadership and career federal managers all agree — federal acquisition needs to be a lot more efficient and effective. Federal News Radio's week-long special report, Inside the World's Biggest Buyer, takes a look at acquisition from every perspective: agency, industry, workforce, oversight, and suspension and debarment.
All week long, Federal News Radio presents a multimedia special report on the changing face of acquisition. Throughout the series, we hear from executive branch acquisition experts, lawmakers, auditors and industry experts on how the government can be a better buyer as it spends half a trillion dollars per year. See a rundown of our planned interviews and reports.
Which agencies have streamlined their acquisition processes to save money and how did they do it? Does combining purchasing power create better value? Has strategic sourcing been a success or failure?
In order to buy the correct things, agencies need the right people who have the means to get the right results. Does the government have enough of those people in place? Where do they come from? How do they gain their expertise? What lessons can be learned today to shape the contracting officer of the future? Plus, how are agencies making sure their vendors have the skill sets they need to meet their missions?
Oversight of the complex acquisition process is continuous and exhaustive. The sheer size of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) gives insight into the wide-ranging scope of the effort to keep track of it, much less enforce its regulations, which are constantly being adapted, modified and added to by Congress and the White House, as well as agencies in their specific acquisition policies. Are there enough auditors to keep everyone honest? And what new regulations and laws are coming down the pike that could change the way you buy goods and services?
Sometimes contractors break the rules. Agencies have the ability to suspend or disbar companies when this happens and it's happening more. The government turned up the heat on companies in 2011 and more suspensions and debarments are expected in 2012. How do companies stay on the right side of acquisition law? What if their transgression is unintentional? Is there due process in the suspension and debarment process? Is the threat of being suspended or debarred enough to convince vendors and agencies to do things differently?
Government contracts can be extremely lucrative, which can create cut-throat competition. With so much riding on a contract, if it doesn't appear to be fairly awarded, protests follow. Small businesses, set-asides and large contractors all have a stake in how the government decides to wield its purchasing power. Do companies think the government is a good partner? What insights and improvements do companies have to make acquisition work better for them?
The transition in Iraq from the Defense to the State Department was the largest civilian logistics operation since World War II. The State Department absorbed hundreds of functions traditionally undertaken by DoD, and a robust new role in contingency contracting. Federal News Radio's special report, Trial by Fire: Overseas Contracting in Transition, examines how key officials at DoD and State planned the transition and how they reformed contingency contracting management over the past decade.