GAO recently released a 93 page report on the challenges that federal agencies face in procuring Information Technology (IT). According to the report, the federal government will spend more than $89 billion on IT procurements in Fiscal Year 2017. Where possible, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has urged agencies to develop and use Integrated Procurement Teams (IPTs) to assist in IT procurements and ensure that federal agencies procure products and services that adequately address their needs. These teams, consisting of multidisciplinary groups of individuals, each with a unique area of subject matter expertise, can provide valuable insight into IT needs and provide a comprehensive ability to design, develop, test, manufacture and deliver a product. At a minimum, OMB guidance requires that the IPT for each “major IT investment” have on staff a dedicated program manager, a contract specialist, an IT specialist, an IT security specialist, and a business process owner or subject matter expert. Having such expertise available allows agencies to develop efficient acquisition strategies, properly articulate requirements using appropriate technical specifications, perform thorough technical evaluations to ensure offerors meet those specifications, and ensure quality performance throughout the life of the contract.
The report makes eighteen detailed recommendations for agencies to ensure the effectiveness of IPTs, and provides examples of how ineffective or inactive IPTs have contributed to significant problems in major IT acquisitions. It examines the use of IPTs in five federal agencies (Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Transportation and Department of the Treasury). The report concludes that the Defense Department has made the most use of IPTs in its IT procurements, but that every agency included in the study has skills gaps in its IT workforce.
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