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Professional Services Category Seeks Feedback on Civilian Services Acquisition Workshops White Paper

The government-wide Professional Services Category is looking for feedback from the acquisition workforce on a white paper that summarizes the Department of Defense’s (DoD) discipline of Services Acquisition Workshops (SAW) and how that best practice could be adopted among civilian federal agencies.  The Civilian Service Acquisition Workshops (CSAW) are a major initiative under the General Services Administration (GSA) and Office of Management and Budget’s professional services category management work.

About SAWs

A SAW is a facilitated workshop built around a specific acquisition and its multi-functional integrated project team (IPT). The workshop walks the core team through the performance based acquisition (PBA) process from beginning to end.

The white paper provides background information on SAWs, details key findings from observational research into the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) SAW facilitation process, and outlines recommendations for implementing SAWs for civilian agencies.

SAWs have been used by the DoD components to mentor and guide Integrated Project Teams (IPTs) in developing their acquisition planning, market research, performance requirements, request for proposal, source selection, contractor performance assessment planning and execution documents. The goal of the SAW is not to finalize or even complete drafts of any particular documentation, but rather to get the team to collaboratively work through the steps and initialize documentation to the point that the IPT feels comfortable completing the documentation on their own.

In December 2012, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) issued a memorandum mandating the use of SAWs or equivalent for DoD components with service acquisition requirements over $1 billion before an acquisition strategy could be approved. This mandate was later incorporated into DoD Instruction 5000.74 (January 2016). In 2017, another DPAP memorandum lowered the dollar threshold from $1 billion to $500 million. OMB has found that agencies reported an average 15 percent reduction in contract price in nominal dollars, and an 18 percent improvement in satisfaction with the contractors’ work when using a performance based acquisition, which SAWs promote.

About the CSAW Initiative

In 2017 the Professional Services category started to explore how SAWs could be adopted by civilian agencies. The category hosted a webinar and published an article on the topic in the Acquisition Gateway.

In FY 2018, the category expanded the practices more widely in civilian agencies by developing agency facilitators and a capability for support from GSA. Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) advocated the initiative to support the increased scaling of new and flexible acquisition practices across government and the initiative was included in the professional services government wide category management plan. As a part of that effort, GSA was tasked with researching and observing DAU’s approach to delivering SAWs, documenting findings, and providing recommendations for the implementation of CSAWs.

This year, the governmentwide Professional Services category established a cohort of potential CSAW facilitators who have completed ACQ265 and required prerequisite, participated in the GSA/OMB provided Facilitation Training, and observed a SAW facilitated by the Defense Acquisition University.  The Steps to Performance Based Acquisition (SPBA) serves as a major resource and support platform for the CSAW initiative.  

Next Steps

The category welcomes input from the federal acquisition community on the white paper.  Comments can be emailed to Jonathan Evans at jonathan.evans@gsa.gov

The workforce is also invited to learn more about the CSAW initiative during a special Acquisition Spotlight on June 20, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. ET.  These seminars are provided by experts in federal contracting issues specific to Professional Services. Federal agencies share best practices and recent expertise in presentations that encourage audience participation. Register now.

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