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Acquisition Reform Efforts Include Data, Workforce Modernization

Among OMB’s Lesley Field’s priorities are improved communication and category management.

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Photo Credit: Lesley Field, Deputy Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Office, speaks at GovernmentCIO Media & Research’s latest CXO Tech Forum June 20. Photo Credit: Geoff Livingston

Improvements in the acquisition process are making way in category management, shared services and innovation, at the Office of Management and Budget, said Lesley Field, Deputy Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Office at GovernmentCIO Media & Research’s latest CXO Tech Forum June 20.

The office’s leading acquisition official detailed how the agency has been approaching acquisition reform and how it will ensure the workforce is trained to keep up. Part of that effort is with category management, where contract managers across agencies buy things commonly, Field said.

She outlined the ways in which the office is using data to inform its shared services for pricing and other information across agencies. But because of the vast amount of data available, it presents opportunities to further streamline acquisition efforts.

“There are data sets we haven’t even figured out how to bring in yet,” she said, adding that the agency is leveraging technology like artificial intelligence and robotic processing automation in order to devote more time for its workforce to think about the data.

An example Field detailed is one in which the General Services Administration pulled in data and put it on dashboards to give decision-makers like CIOs informed information for procurement. Still, this type of information sharing will be a foreseeable challenge.

“We need to work on communication,” she said, adding that for all contractors and federal workers, sharing information about how technology can help and how to buy it has been a huge challenge that increased communication could improve.

Field detailed OMB’s myth-busting campaign aimed to showcase how front line acquisition officials have been thinking about engagement between the public and private sectors.

“You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, so sharing those stories and recognizing success is important for everyone. Storytelling and human connection are most important,” she said.

Its most recent myth-busting note issued April 30 discusses strengthening engagement with industry partners through innovative business practices.

But there is still some work to do. In the next couple years, Field said modernizing the workforce and how it is trained as well as modernizing how data is captured and what is done with it will be among the agency’s priorities.

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