Emerging Policy and Practice Issues (2008)
West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (Covering 2008)
20 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2009
Date Written: 2008
This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2008), attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2009 in U.S. federal procurement. In large part, the paper focuses upon the challenges facing the incoming Obama administration, which faces a number of interrelated, critical, systemic challenges that pervade the acquisition landscape. Federal procurement spending has exploded in this decade. As a result - and, in addition to decisions made during the 1990's - the Government is heavily outsourced, dependent upon contractors to an extent - in degree and in type - that makes many uncomfortable. To exacerbate matters, the Government lacks a sufficient acquisition workforce to responsibly manage its cadre of contractors (including an increasingly blended-military-contractor, civil servant-contractor, and/or military-civil servant-contractor-workforce). The failure to plan and staff the acquisition function in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly, the ill-conceived and poorly-orchestrated reliance on arms-bearing (or private security) contractors in the battle area, will continue to generate bad procurement news and erode confidence. Thus, the foreseeable future will be dominated by a deeply ingrained, broad-based anti-contractor sentiment, which will manifest in the form of initiatives intended to achieve greater (pick your label) accountability, compliance, corruption control, ethics, integrity, transparency, etc. All of which signals turbulent times ahead, whether or not the new administration embarks upon an epochal public works program that would continue to fuel the breathtaking increases in procurement spending that have spanned this new century.
Keywords: government contracts, public procurement, acquisition workforce, outsourcing, private military, private security contractors, procurement spending, Iraq, Afghanistan, Status of Forces Agreement, compliance, defense reform
JEL Classification: H42, H56, H57
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation