A new Partnership for Public Service report identified specific case studies across the federal procurement community that modeled collaboration and could advance White House policies on equity, sustainability and modernization.
The federal government must transform its procurement practices and focus on improving collaboration to deliver on the White House's goal of leveraging agencies’ buying powers to advance racial equity, modernize infrastructure and address climate change, according to a new report.
The Partnership for Public Service report, released Wednesday, identified specific examples across the federal government of agencies employing innovative procurement and acquisition initiatives to "deliver more effective services and better outcomes to the public."
Those examples included the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section contracting with the General Services Administration's technology consultancy, 18F, to improve the Americans with Disabilities Act website.
The report said 18F employed open-source and pre-approved tools like cloud.gov and the U.S. Web Design System, which gave the team more time to better understand the needs of the site's 3.5 million annual visitors.
The report also recommends specific steps agencies can begin taking to advance White House goals on equity, modernization and sustainability, from interdisciplinary approaches to procurement and building external partnerships, to leveraging government programs like 18F for guidance on the digital service acquisition lifecycle.
The Partnership for Public Service also explored how the U.S. Digital Service has redesigned its procurement processes with a focus on cross-agency collaboration and including the product, engineering, design and procurement offices on projects from start to finish, rather than having those teams work in more traditional silos.
"The U.S. Digital Service’s team-based model of procurement brings together experts across the agency, which can result in faster, cheaper and more sustainable procurements," the report said.
President Joe Biden announced a commitment to double the number of federal contracts going towards small, disadvantaged businesses in 2021 as part of an effort to close the racial wealth gap in the U.S. The White House said the commitment would amount to nearly $100 billion in additional contracts for SDBs through 2026.
The president also signed an executive order in December 2021 which aimed to leverage the federal government's purchasing powers to achieve net-zero emissions for federal procurement and government-wide operations by 2050.
To meet those ambitious goals, the Partnership for Public Service called on federal agencies to explore implementing new procurement initiatives like the Department of Homeland Security Procurement Innovation Lab.
The lab provides acquisition professionals across the federal government access to digital information technology training, tests experimental procurement conventions and shares insights with the federal acquisition community. The Procurement Innovation Lab supported 20 projects in fiscal year 2022 that resulted in a cumulative cost savings of $814 million, the report said.
The Partnership also identified NASA's Acquisition Innovation Launchpad as another recent example of a federal initiative that promotes industry collaboration and strengthens program management practices.
"To tackle complex societal challenges and better serve the public, government agencies must collaborate internally, across agencies, with the public and with industry to take advantage of diverse expertise as well as the lived experience of the people they serve," the report said.