Contracting is often one of the longest lead-items in the acquisition life-cycle, and also one of the riskiest. The time it takes to develop, solicit, and award a contract can inhibit the government’s ability to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology advancement.
Discovering avenues to speed the contracting process, while also preserving the inherent values of the federal contracting process is essential.
Government contracting is considered an art, and not a science. Federal contracting is often characterized as a rigid process that is burdened by an overwhelming amount of guidance, policy, and statute; however, it is also considered by many to be flexible, and embracing of creativity and innovation.
When it comes to finding the right contracting approach, it is important to understand that there are numerous contracting strategies, tools, and methods available. There is no single “right” way to contract, and that there are several available paths to achieve the desired outcome. It is important to bear in mind that each organization should have a “diversified” contracting approach – just like we are advised to diversify our personal investments, organizations should do the same for their contracting strategy. Often a program or Agency wants to seek the “path of least resistance” or “crack the code” with contracting, only to continue to exploit that contract strategy over and over again. While this may solve short-term or temporary needs, it is not a long-term sustainable strategy, and an organization is best positioned for repeatable success if it can diversify its contracting mechanisms to enable continuous speed, agility, and innovation.
- Contracting should be planned as part of a holistic business strategy for the organization
- Leverage existing contracts before developing new ones
- Engage contracting early and develop mutual objectives
- Both the Government and Contractors must be incentivized for speed
USD(A&S), in partnership with MITRE, developed the Contracting Cone to provide the full spectrum of available FAR and Non-FAR contract strategies. The supporting materials provide details about each contracting strategy, to enable collaborative discussions to select the right strategy based on environment, constraints, and desired outcomes.
A flexible business arrangement with a non-traditional supplier to quickly develop a prototype system with significantly less administrative overhead.read more
Excerpts of the FAR that foster greater innovation, speed, and effectiveness in federal contracting.read more
Challenges offer a promising alternative to the traditional acquisition and contracting approaches by enabling companies to demonstrate prototypes or systems that meet government requirements.read more
A notice from the government that requests scientific or research proposals from private firms and/or educational institutions concerning innovative ideas.read more
- Engaging with Industry, DEPSECDEF Patrick Shanahan, Mar 2018
- Here’s How Ellen Lord Will Reduce Contracting Timelines by 50%, Aaron Mehta, Defense News
- Section 809 Panel Volume III Report – Section 7 on Simplifying Contracting, Jan 2019
- Challenge Based Acquisition Guide – The MITRE Corporation, Jan 2019 (4th Edition)
- Acquisition in the Digital Age (AiDA) Contracting References – The MITRE Corporation
- Other Transactions (OT) Guide, USD(A&S), Dec 2018
- DIUx Commercial Solutions Opening How-to Guide – Nov 2016
- Air Force Research Laboratory Broad Agency Announcement Guide for Industry – Mar 2015