Improving the Federal government’s approach to digital services acquisition continues to be a critical building block in implementing the President’s vision for a 21st Century government, one that leverages private-sector best practices to achieve a Federal Government that is smarter, savvier and more effective in delivering for the American people.
In furtherance of this approach, we’re excited to introduce the TechFAR Hub, which will provide agency personnel involved in the procurement process with practical tools and resources for applying industry best practices to digital service acquisitions. The Hub is available through GSA’s Acquisition Gateway, a one-stop portal for contract information, pricing tools, best practices, and other information. The new TechFAR Hub was developed through a collaboration between the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the U.S. Digital Service, which, in 2014, partnered to deploy the TechFAR Handbook so that agencies could better understand how current regulatory authorities and related policies can be used to meet software development needs more efficiently.
Using the TechFAR Hub, acquisition professionals and other stakeholders in digital acquisition can discover resources that describe successful practices, discuss these ideas with other members of the community, get digital IT support through step-by-step aides built by agency experts, and then share what they learned with the community.
While numerous digital service acquisition resources exist today across government, these valuable assets can be difficult to find. In the “Discover IT” section of the TechFAR Hub, we’ve curated and consolidated a selection of courses, podcasts, and case studies that provide best practices in digital services acquisition.
2. Community Engagement
As agile development, SaaS, and open source software become commonplace throughout government, we want to ensure that acquisition professionals have a central online location to ask questions and share best practices on these topics. The “Discuss IT” section of TechFAR Hub introduces the “Government Digital Service Acquisition Community” on Stack Exchange, which is a crowdsourced discussion board where anyone can ask and answer questions about government digital service acquisitions.
The “Do IT” section of the TechFAR Hub helps acquisition professionals transition from learning about best practices to using them. Here, one can find estimation, market research, and requirement building tools to assist in the digital procurement process. One tool — the Agile Solicitation Builder — allows requirement owners and contracting officers to work together to generate a customized solicitation. After the program manager and contracting officer answer a series of simple questions, the tool generates a tailored document, written in plain language. This gives contracting professionals and their agency counsel a tool for becoming more proficient and efficient and an opportunity to move away from outdated templates that may be burdensome and duplicative.
Today’s release builds on similar efforts already underway across the Federal government. For instance, through OMB’s Category Management Initiative, we’ve realized nearly $2 billion in savings since 2009 by driving smarter buying practices. Through policies that implement these category management principles, such as OMB’s software licensing policy, this Administration is breaking down silos in the Federal government IT acquisition space and making the acquisition and management of common IT goods and services more efficient and effective. And earlier this year, the first of what we hope will be many classes graduated from a new digital services contracting training program, where acquisition professionals gained valuable hands-on experience applying modern IT procurement strategies.
The newly announced TechFAR Hub joins this growing list of modern technology solutions. We encourage you to spend time on the Hub – review its resources, test out its tools, and provide your feedback. Our goal is to refine and shape future content and features around the needs of the acquisition workforce in order to enhance its ability to deliver greater value for each taxpayer dollar spent.
Mikey Dickerson is the Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service.
Anne Rung is the U.S. Chief Acquisition Officer.