IT Reform: OFPP Issues Guidelines for Specialized IT Acquisition Cadres

CIO Council


To help agencies address IT acquisition challenges, Dan Gordon, Administrator of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), released a memorandum on July 13, 2011, to chief acquisition officers (CAOs), senior procurement executives (SPEs) and chief information officers (CIOs) that provides guidance on designing and developing specialized IT acquisition cadres and developing IT best acquisition practices.

“Far too often,” Gordon noted in the memorandum, “Federal information technology (IT) acquisitions, especially for large projects, have been plagued by budget overruns, missed milestones, or failure to deliver expected functionality—and sometimes all three.” Specialized acquisition cadres and government-wide IT acquisition best practices are identified as key reforms in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) IT Reform Plan. The plan calls OMB to identify standardized training and development opportunities to develop professionals with the specialized knowledge and experience required to expedite complex IT acquisitions across the Federal Government.

Achieving goals and improving outcomes

The memorandum described specialized IT acquisition cadres as “generally composed of highly-trained, experienced acquisition professionals.” The newly issued guidelines describe how agencies can:

Design and organize a cadre of contracting professionals, Program Managers (PMs), and Contracting Officer’s Representatives (CORs) to ensure these functions work closely throughout the process to achieve program goals.Strengthen the skills and capabilities of this specialized acquisition cadre to improve outcomes.

OFPP reached out to agencies that have already developed IT acquisition professionals to help establish the new guidelines. A community of practice (CoP) is being developed to capture and disseminate best practices for developing and strengthening the cadres and for improving IT acquisition strategies and practices generally.

Agencies must consider the potential benefits and review their current IT acquisition workforce and program. Updates to their most recent acquisition human capital plan (AHCP) are due August 31, 2011.