Report: Government could save $158 billion a year with smarter, Web 2.0-savvy procurement

Survey of 200 federal procurement managers finds scant adoption of project management and technology mandates that could help bring down costs.

We hear the promises and pronouncements made over and over and over again. We need to streamline and cut waste in government. It's been the theme of every political campaign for decades. But it doesn't seem to have happened so far. Will technology and management innovations save the day?

MeriTalk's Steve O'Keeffe calls attempts to freeze government IT spending the "Kundra Tundra" -- an allusion to federal CIO Kundra Vivek's promise to reign in and streamline the government's $80-billion-a-year IT  budget -- at least by five percent a year -- through aggressive and pro-active actions such as cloud computing, virtualization and data center consolidation. And, as a result, enable agencies across the board to better streamline their own programs.

However to date, O'Keeffe observes, "the hard number savings associated with these programs are, well, somewhat nebulous." And many cost-cutting and streamlining mandates that already exist aren't being practiced.

MeriTalk, a social networking resource for government IT managers, just issued a study of 200 federal procurement professionals, "Federal Procurement Reform: Change Takes More Than Words," which asserts that the federal government could save up to $158 billion a year by finally implementing already mandated management practices, especially as they relate to procurement practices.

Such measures include the the need for stronger program management training. Despite Federal mandates that require the use of project management tactics such as Earned Value Management (EVM) and Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) for large projects, agencies are not training for, or supporting continuous use of, these techniques. Only 17 percent and 14 percent of Federal agencies have implemented and are consistently using EVM and CPIC, respectively, the report alleges.

Procurement is another area rife with inefficiencies. The study finds only 12 percent of federal procurement managers surveyed give their agency an “A” for procurement process maturity.

Web 2.0 and social networking offer promising ways to communicate and share information across agencies, policymaking bodies, and constituents, However, the study finds, while 49 percent of respondents want to increase top-down transparency, only 18 percent of respondents are leveraging technology innovations such as Web 2.0 to demonstrate contract return on investment. Additionally, only 21 percent of respondents say their agency actively encourages citizen participation and actually responds to general inquiries.

The study shows that while new initiatives, mandates, and legislation such as the Federal IT Dashboard, Open Government Directive, and pending S. 920 IT Investment Oversight Enhancement and Waste Prevention Act of 2009 provide the high-level framework for increasing procurement maturity and overall contract success rates, feds need to take action to achieve real, quantifiable change.

(Photo by the author.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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