Attention federal contractors – someone in Washington feels (at least some of) your pain and has a plan to make changes.  Staying out in front of those changes is the key to successful dealings with the biggest purchaser on the planet – the federal government.

Anne Rung – the new chief administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy – recently acknowledged that contracting with the government can be “complex,” “difficult to navigate,” and “government-centric.”

Speaking at the National Contract Management Association‘s 33rd symposium in Washington, Rung proposed changes that could be news to contractors’ ears, including:

• Simplifying procurements to emphasize contractor performance;

• Increasing collaboration and cooperation between the government’s acquisition workforce and the private sector; and

• Strengthening agency innovation and resources.

A potential model for reform might be the General Services Administration’s recently released strategic sourcing initiative (called the Common Acquisition Platform), which uses “hallways” for vendors operating in different arenas.  In other words, products and services are organized into different categories in order to streamline procurements and reduce redundancy and waste.

Rung explained:  “It’s a shift to managing entire categories of acquisition across government and bringing common spending under single managers . . . You could still have agency-specific projects—one size doesn’t fit all and there’s a difference between buying a hammer and buying information technology services.”

That said, Rung also acknowledged that federal procurement spending – done at a clip of about $450 billion a year – is complex, at times, for a reason.  She specifically cited to areas such as information technology procurement as requiring special attention and reform.

These pledged moves to simplify government contracting are certainly something we’ll be watching over the months and years to come.  In the meantime, government contractors will need to keep navigating those complex waters.