OMB busts government market contractor myths
Misconceptions about federal contracting are the target of a new "myth busting" memo (.pdf) issued May 7 by the Office of Management and Budget.
The memo, issued by Lesley Field, acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, forms part of a campaign begun in 2011 to rid federal procurement staff and vendors of common delusions. This newest memo, Field writes, looks at contracting from a private sector perspective.
A main assumption of the campaign is that "early, frequent, and constructive engagement with industry leads to better acquisition outcomes," Field states.
Among the myths selected for refutation are that agency personnel may share proprietary data with competitors if obtained during a one-on-one meeting. In fact, the Trade Secrets Act prohibits federal employees from divulging protected information. During source selection, the Procurement Integrity Act also adds an additional layer of protection.
But, just because federal officials may not divulge proprietary information, there's no general limitation on them sharing information such as prices with other federal agencies, the memo adds, citing another myth. In other words, agencies should typically avoid singing a nondisclosure agreement that would prevent them from sharing price information within government.
"Price visibility is critical to ensuring that the Government gets the best prices and that agencies are not paying more for the same products or services being bought under the same circumstances," the memo states.
Some myths addressed by the memo seem of a type that only neophytes who also think that winter is caused by Persephone's return to Hades would believe in. For example, the memo says it's a common misconception that bringing only business development and marketing people to a meeting with agency technical staff is a good idea. It also cautions against marketing directly to contracting officers and signing them up for a company's marketing email list.
The memo also tells contractors they should ask for a debriefing if they're entitled to one. "Asking for a debriefing is the best way to find out why you were not awarded the contract or order," it states.
- download the memo, "'Myth-Busting 2': Addressing Misconceptions and Further Improving Communication During the Acquisition Process" (.pdf)