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we can begin making now in order to set the necessary changes in motion, and a way to measure and share ideas and progress. People across the federal commu- nity are beginning to use the guide as they plan and work toward their envisioned futures. And because sharing examples of AOF-like initia- tives already in development will help illuminate what the future might look like and successful ways to proceed, everyone is invited to capture his or her journey and findings on the soon- to-be-launched AOF Transformation Collaboration website. Heightened expectations The guide envisions a marketplace that uses open architecture, open business practices and transparency to attract new companies and innovation to gov- ernment. The Defense Information Sys- tems Agency’s app store is an example of this new approach. The store will allow employees to download and use apps immediately — even some they’d have to pay for on their personal devices. Today, we all use smartphone apps for a range of activities, including bank- ing, news, entertainment and health care. But it’s important to note that young people entering the military and federal workforce who grew up as digital natives expect to find the speed, simplicity and immediacy of apps where they serve and work. Constant connectivity offers app users new ways to co-create, buy, find, meet and interact, and even enables service members in harm’s way to exchange views of the battle- field and other intelligence. Offering a marketplace with commercial and military-developed apps allows users to vote on the most useful apps with their downloads and comments, and to send clear, direct signals about what else they need. In addition to the app store, DISA is unveiling an IT storefront that will allow users to securely buy IT as they would online: directly, easily and quick- ly. The user experience will be friction- less, and little procurement processing will be involved, which means DISA will have added relatively little strain to the already stretched contracting corps. Office of Federal Procurement Poli- cy Administrator Anne Rung and Fed- eral Acquisition Service Commissioner Tom Sharpe are working together on initiatives to provide full-service strate- gic sourcing and category management capabilities. Those efforts dovetail with the AOF guide’s description of future buyers. AOF anticipates a data-enabled team freed by vastly expanded strate- gic sourcing and category management to focus on mission outcomes rather than just support and process. Rung leads the Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council, which is made up of the federal agencies that are the big- gest buyers. The group has approved 10 “super categories” of commonly bought products and services for management — including IT, transportation, travel and professional services — in an effort to broaden strategic sourcing. By managing those categories from a governmentwide perspective, the goal is to use data and greater demand to drive down prices and eliminate dupli- cative contracts. Senior executives will manage categories that focus on price, buying trends, cost drivers, innovation, and emerging companies and capabili- ties in their markets. That approach aligns with the AOF guide’s vision of future acquisition teams that are aware of market con- ditions, understand supplier capabili- ties and incentives, are immersed in their agency’s mission, and consider all the external forces shaping it. This vision of highly sophisticated buyers also includes fingertip access to clean, accurate, governmentwide acquisition data already analyzed and visualized using artificial intelligence to support decision-making. It is encouraging to observe that OFPP and the General Services Admin- istration already are working on mak- ing this future a reality. Other instances of forward-leaning IT buying techniques abound. They include the National Geospatial-Intel- ligence Agency’s GEOINT App Store; the Defense Department’s forthcom- ing marketplace for ground control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles; and 3D printing in medical, military and space programs. Seeing tomorrow Isolated experiments, of course, have come and gone for decades while fed- eral acquisition remains data-deprived, rule-bound, risk-averse, overly regu- lated, and unable to consistently meet expectations for delivering new and expanded types of mission value. But with a vision, a common language, a guide, and a place to collaborate and share, today’s experiments have a real shot at evolving into what the acquisition community truly aspires to deliver. So that brings us back to AOF and its continuously adapting, annotatable guide that enables leaders to chart their course rather than impose static condi- tions on acquisition’s evolution. Soon the AOF Transformation Guide and collaboration site will be available for public view, comment, annotation, and posting of examples and lessons learned on a website hosted by ACT- IAC. If you’d like an early glimpse and want to be notified of the launch date, sign up at AcquisitionoftheFuture.org. It’s time to build the future of federal acquisition — together. n Kymm McCabe is CEO of ASI Government, which provides support, research, education, news and tools to more than 45,000 federal acquisition professionals at 130 organizations through the company’s Virtual Acquisition Office and Applied Learning Online. AcquisitionMatters 32 February 2015 FCW.COM 0215fcw_031-032.indd 32 1/26/15 9:32 AM
March 15, 2015