Top-level leadership communications and government reporting trends over the past six months show that the federal government is positioned to initiate several expansive reform efforts in the coming calendar year. While the reforms across procurement, IT and DoD audit readiness may not be as revolutionary as required, their gradual and thorough implementation over a well-planned timeline could provide enterprise-wide changes whose benefits would be felt for years to come.
1. Transform Federal Procurement:
Anne Rung, the Director of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), recently announced a major effort to transform the government’s procurement processes. Areas for improvement include reducing duplicative efforts, identifying ways to share knowledge and performance information across agencies, and developing consistent pricing methods. Through their holistic approach to addressing these challenges, OFPP aims to improve the efficiency, transparency and consistency of processes while also facilitating stronger relationships with vendors.
2. Conduct Information Technology (IT) Reform:
In early December, lawmakers drafting the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) made progress towards reforming federal IT acquisitions. IT reform has been a hot topic over the past year, and now Congress is striving to empower agency CIOs to better conduct and manage large-scale IT investments while also improving transparency for the federal government as a whole. The Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) would also require CIOs to submit performance dashboards as well as help the government identify risk management best practices. While government IT practices may not be reforming as quickly as technology appears to be, efforts are underway to help the government catch up as quickly as possible.
3. Enhance Customer Service:
Management agenda priorities for Fiscal Year 2016, as outlined by the Office of Management and Budget, included a directive for several government entities to address customer service concerns. Agencies such as USDA, DHS, Treasury, VA and SBA were asked to highlight activities for enhancing and collecting feedback from direct users and customers in their budget submissions. Furthermore, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on additional agencies that lack customer service standards with easily measurable and publicly available performance data. As a result, customer service will continue to be a focus during the execution of current and planning for future federal budgets throughout the remainder of the fiscal year.
4. Meet Small Business Goals:
Every two years, the Small Business Administration (SBA) works closely with federal organizations to refine small business prime and subcontracting goals. These goals outline percentages of total procurement dollars that agencies will aim to spend on small business, with a minimum goal of 23% of total investments. The goals are broken down by additional business certifications such as women-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, and disadvantaged statuses. The SBA uses annual scorecards to gauge individual agency performance as well as government-wide performance, and these scorecards have shown continued advancement since 2007. While some federal agencies meet or exceed their performance objectives across the categories, others struggle to progress as planned. The SBA Strategic Plan for FYs 2014-2018 will continue to strengthen the small business focus, and industry participants should expect to see further government reports and media coverage on this topic.
5. Prepare DoD for Financial Audits:
The Department of Defense (DoD) is required to produce auditable financial statements by FY 2017 through improved use of internal controls, overhauled financial systems and accurate reporting of assets. Headway has been made to produce auditable Statements of Budgetary Resources by 2014, as promised by former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. In the past year, DoD has conducted mock audits, monthly tests of internal controls, data analyses and staff training for the newly implemented DoD-wide financial management system, GFEBS. Over the course of the next year, DoD will execute their Financial Improvement Plan to evolve the timeliness, accuracy and relevancy of its financial data.