VA ACQUISITION DEBACLE POINTS OUT LARGER PROBLEM ON PROCUREMENT
Multiple industry media outlets chronicled the problems brought to light with VA acquisition last week. Purchase cards used on “split” procurements to avoid buying from established contracts was just one type of infraction. The reaction of VA Secretary Bob McDonald, though, shows the all too common reaction of senior management when it comes to acquisition problems – “procurement heal thyself”. Sorry, Secretary McDonald. The VHA is technically a customer of your Acquisition and Material Management operation. They’re co-equal organizations. If you’re unhappy about how the VHA brought, only you, not acquisition, can fix it. This is an essential problem with procurement at the federal level. It’s still seen as a rear echelon operation, not integral to the overall operation of the agency it serves. Despite the creation of the Chief Acquisition Officer position several years ago, acquisition isn’t widely seen as a way to help the overall organization achieve mission success. This isn’t always the case at the state or local government levels, and it’s here that the feds can take a page from that book. Where acquisition leadership is fully integrated, and its roll better understood, the entire organization benefits. Secretary McDonald, and his colleagues elsewhere at the federal level, need to set aside some time to see what acquisition, properly executed, can do for their organizations.