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FCW : March 15, 2013
RFP-EZ guage: "Web developers don t call themselves informa- tion distribution platform providers. " He said he was unsure of the extent of the buy-in from the acquisition community, despite the fellows best efforts. Younger workers, he said, are interested in mak- ing their jobs easier, but other contracting of cers see RFP-EZ as just another idea outside innovators dreamed up. (See "Bright ideas before RFP-EZ," at right.) "It s a valid fear that this is just another tool," Johnson said. Over the next several months, he and his colleagues will nd out if they can overcome those doubts. Acquisition experts have questions of their own. Sev- eral warned that government of cials will have to ensure that RFP-EZ does not become a way to sidestep competi- tion for contracts. And the fact that it simpli es certain types of small projects could encourage agencies to go for what is quick rather than what is really needed. When the project was rst announced, Paul Brubaker, who was in the private sector at the time and is now director of planning and performance management at the Defense Department, said RFP-EZ could encourage a proliferation of poorly conceived mobile apps, similar to the way agencies once rushed to build websites that then went largely unused. RFP-EZ has two impediments, said Steven Koprince, a government contracts attorney and author of "The Small- Business Guide to Government Contracts." First, it does not actually make the procurement process easier for the contracting of cer or the contractor because both sides still must comply with more than 2,000 pages of acquisi- tion rules. Second, news of the pilot project might not reach enough contracting of cers or vendors to make a real impact. Yet Ellen Murray, assistant secretary for nancial resources at the Department of Health and Human Ser- vices, said she is looking forward to test-driving RFP-EZ. She said HHS contracting executives were scheduled to see a demonstration of the project in February. They plan to share information among HHS of ces and have one contracting of ce provide feedback on the pilot. Murray also plans to lay the groundwork required to inte- grate RFP-EZ into the department s acquisition process. "HHS is interested in the RFP-EZ concept," she said. The demo "will afford us an opportunity to understand its utility and how it can be integrated into our systems and practices." Of cials will consider what the project has to offer them, Koprince agreed. "The bottom line is that I think that the RFP-EZ system will get a fair shake from both contractors and contracting of cers," he said, "and we will see where that takes us." ■ Bright ideas before RFP-EZ The Federal Acquisition Computer Network was mandated by the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994. However, the online procurement system to drive transparency and competition never left the launch pad. Technological changes killed it. "It showed that the government should not get too speci c in mandating solutions lest the commercial world evolve and make those solutions obsolete before they re even launched, " said Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners. A decade ago, the General Services Administration created GSA Preferred to streamline the procurement of IT goods and services by automating the entire contracting process. Of cials pulled the plug on the program in 2006. Other attempts have been more successful. In 2004, GSA created the Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resources for Services governmentwide acquisition contract for small rms. It has a great reputation among small contractors and many federal buyers, Allen said. And the Small Business Admini- stration has its own programs to encourage agencies to contract with small businesses, those owned by service- disabled veterans and other disadvantaged rms. Still, Allen said, "the highways of the federal procurement system are littered with failed streamlining attempts. " --- Matthew Weigelt 18 March 15, 2013 FCW.COM
March 30, 2013