Independent collaboration: the future of government contracting

Many industry and government personnel seem to have an opinion about the increasing level of government oversight surrounding government programs, of which many have resulted in significant cost overruns, delays, and downright poor results. And like most people, I have my own opinions.

At a very macro level, there are several key issues that are driving the need for increased government oversight:

  1. Contracting rules. Let’s face it, government contracting rules need a bit more tightening. Cost-plus contracts allow for escalating costs with little incentive for contractors to create time- and cost-efficiencies.
  2. Personnel. The number of government programs are outpacing the number of qualified personnel to adequately manage them.

If you agree with the above two points, then surely you would agree that new strategies must be considered in order to tighten government program controls. But is increasing government oversight the most effective way to resolve this?

While increasing government oversight and tightening contractor requirements (e.g. earned value management) would likely improve the situation, it can further divide the relationship between industry and government. Of course, the argument can be made that some technology tools can enable EVM capabilities and provide real-time, web-based visibility into the management of government programs. This addresses the post-award stage of government contracting.

The forward-looking solution rests in the stages that preclude contract award. The answer is not as crazy as it sounds: “independent collaboration.”

“Independent collaboration” describes the process by which government selects the proper team of industry partners to design optimal solutions that meet some of government’s most pressing priorities. This represents a departure from the current government contracting climate, where contractors pull together teams of partners to deliver what they believe to be the best team, which often times leverages existing networks and relationships (and may not truly represent the best collective solution).

Under this new approach, government would identify and select the right partners to comprise the right team. Industry partners would then work together and deliver the solution in an environment of complete transparency and accountability.

Would This Really Work?
A solution in and of itself may not produce the desired expectations, but collectively, I believe they would. Combining the “independent collaboration” approach with the current movement towards increasing government program management oversight would not only help address the immediate concerns over runaway program costs, etc., but it would also support the Administration’s goals of maximizing taxpayer monies, increasing transparency and accountability, and helping to ensure that the program dollars are being spent on the “right” solutions and not just the most convenient ones.


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