How many federal managers are necessary to get the job done? Whether creating a new position or filling a vacant one, it seems I’m continually reading about new people recruited and appointed into the Obama Administration.
The latest leadership vacancy, which chief information officer Vivek Kundra is pushing to get filled, heads the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy, an agency established by Congress in 1974 to provide overall direction for government-wide procurement policies, regulations and procedures and to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in acquisition processes.
Kundra has been a vocal advocate for simplifying the government’s buying process, an effort that he said should include reforming parts of the General Services Administration. The government needs to do a better job of using technology to make the whole process easier…
“Everyone in government shouldn’t have to have a Ph.D. in procurement,” he said. “Why is it so complex?”
Kundra wants a speedier, simpler acquisition process, and he said the candidates for OFPP administrator should understand the overall challenges in government procurement and be able to speed up the acquisition of rapidly changing technologies.
The OFPP administrator should “recognize we can’t treat technology procurements in the same way we do buying buildings,” he said.
Not only should procurement processes be different but the 1974 mandate of the office should be amended to take into consideration the benefits of social media.
Here are two points to consider:
First, in light of Andy Krzmarzick’s excellent guide to intertwine social media and federal procurement guidelines, are Kundra and his colleagues taking notes?
Will this new administrator–or the Obama Administration–be willing to announce pre-solicitation bids by audio or video and make them available online for response? How about using tag clouds in lieu of search forms? Collaborative wikis are a good step too, Andy suggests.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, what’s the purpose of the OFPP in 2009 in the wake of the recent launch of USASpending.gov, Data.gov, and Recovery.gov? Are they mere web tattoos or is the new administrator going to have an open mind to consider using the elements of the three crowdsourcing websites to make his job easier?
As Oliver Bell, the Microsoft Australia director of standards engagement, writes in a blog post that I approved on Governing People yesterday:
The building blocks for more significant initiatives are evident in the US strategy, in particular the idea of opening up significant silos of government data for use by constituents. Citizens will find new and exciting uses for this data that will solve social, economic and other issues in ways that policy makers are not even considering.
Delivering Gov 2.0 will involve presenting citizens with a new type of tool that empowers them to make their own decisions around how projects are established or how changes are made to the workings of their own government. Often these new types of tool will not involve government officials directly; government will simply provide the platform and citizens will be the ones who are in control.
It will be a major shift for many of our government leaders and policy makers, it won’t be an easy shift, but Web 2.0 has shown us that it is a shift that has the potential to bring significant value.
But what do I know. Maybe it’s cost-efficient to hire managers and bloat government protocols.
Hat tip to Gwynne Kostin.