Author’s Note: The "Behind the Buy" podcast features audio stories told by members of the Federal acquisition workforce who have successfully executed best practice IT contracting strategies from the TechFAR and Digital Services Playbook to help their agency meet its mission.
In this Behind the Buy podcast, OFPP Administrator Anne Rung interviews Consumer Financial Protection Bureau contracting officer, Tara Jamison, who has experience in executing agile and iterative strategies supported by the TechFAR Handbook and Digital Services Playbook at the Department of Defense and Department of Justice. Jamison explains how, through the procurement of counter-roadside bomb technology, she used rapid development and deployment to help save American lives during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Tara employed an agile and iterative approach (Play #4) to buy jammer platforms that are worn by soldiers and mounted on vehicles for blocking radio signals that remotely detonate roadside bombs. Although this technology already existed at the time - its application required significant customization for combat purposes. Tara and her team addressed this emergency need by engaging contractors to determine technical capabilities and exchange best practices, strategies, and potential solutions. Every morning, Tara’s team discussed priorities for each iteration with all service branches and contractors. She managed their competing priorities by enabling each service branch to regularly test, evaluate, and aid in source selection. This consensus strategy was achieved by establishing the rules of engagement early on in the planning process between the service branches, leadership, and supporting offices. As the program matured, its purchasing strategy evolved and is now completely customized for combat purposes.
Contracting officers must engage their customers early to facilitate collaboration and strategic planning. As a customer’s needs change, so must the approach. Tara teaches listeners that effective procurement is achieved by gauging and addressing customer concerns while maintaining the integrity of the intended outcome.
About Behind the Buy:
To share best practices from tools like the Playbook and TechFAR, members of the Federal acquisition community recommended we use more innovative communication channels. The workforce wanted an interactive way to send and receive solutions that enhance the value of IT procurements for customers and taxpayers. Those suggestions led to the creation of the Behind the Buy audio series, or podcast, a human-centered design approach that allows procurement and program offices to listen and learn about innovative IT contracting strategies while carrying on their daily work responsibilities.
Both the Playbook and TechFAR are edited on GitHub, where they serve as living documents that can be shared and shaped by digital experts across the country. If you have a “Playbook or TechFAR-related” experience, let us know! We’d like to hear about your success story and take the Federal community Behind the Buy.
Anne Rung is the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.