USCIS adopts Agile procurement methods to keep vendors on their toes

U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityFederal Times reports on U.S. Customs and Immigration Services Chief Information Officer Mark Schwartz’s efforts to revamp the clunky procurement process that left him frustrated with long lead times, vendor lock-in and poor performance.

As the agency moved towards agile development practices, Schwartz sought to create a contracting process that would provide similar speed and flexibility. These efforts produced CIS’s Flexible Agile Development Services Contract, which involves shorter contract terms and rolling competitions with periodic evaluations.

From the article:

“We came from a world where we had big systems integration contracts for big long-term programs and we found that that wasn’t working very well for us,” Schwartz said. “It didn’t feel like there was enough of a competitive incentive for a contractor who was awarded a big vehicle like that.”

By reassessing vendors’ work at regular intervals, the FADS contract has that incentive built in.

“We figured this way the contractors have to keep making sure they keep us happy and look good compared to the other contractors,” Schwartz said.

While the approach might seem daunting to contractors, Schwartz said they were able to balance that by providing explicit performance metrics for the evaluations, so vendors knew exactly what to do to maintain and increase their share of the contract.

Among those metrics is a mandate to work with the other vendors — sharing ideas and supporting each other’s work.

Read the full article: CIS keeps contractors competing with new approach | FederalTimes

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