Daily Archives: February 18, 2013

Could Strategic Sourcing Save the US Government?

It’s a hard question to answer, but when you consider the fact that Joe Jordan, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy just said that our government is the largest purchaser in the world, but it buys as if it were 130 mid-sized businesses. We’ve got to leverage our buying power, you’ve got to think about it. Especially when a recent report from the IBM Center for The Business of Government by David C. Wyld estimated there are 8.9 Billion in Savings to be had in US Federal Government Spending Alone just by using public sector reverse auctions on a mere 75 Billion of Federal Spend identified as appropriate for reverse auctions.

When you think about the fact the the U.S. Government Budget for 2012 consisted of 3.796 Trillion of Expenditures, with 716 Billion going to defence, 56 Billion to International Affairs, 31 Billion to Science, Space, and Technology, 23 Billion to Energy, 43 Billion to Natural Resources and Environment, 19 Billion to Agriculture, 103 Billion to Transportation, 32 Billion to Community and Regional Development, 361 Billion to Health, and 62 Billion to Administration of Justice (which adds up to 1.446 Trillion, where you know manpower costs are probably less than half, you have to believe there is at least 750 Billion of Federal Spend that is appropriate for strategic sourcing. At least. Slap on the expected 12% expected average savings if the Federal Government bought strategically using its buying power, and we would expect there are at least 90 Billion in what is likely low-hanging fruit savings opportunities just waiting to be plucked. At least. Now, it’s true that this wouldn’t even cut 10% off the deficit, but if the US returns to a balanced budget in the near future, and strategic sourcing saves the company 12% of sourceable spend, then even if sourceable spend is only 50% of the entire spend, the company will be saving 150 Billion a year, and that adds up quite fast!

According to Jordan, strategic sourcing could perhaps apply to $150 Billion of $500 Billion under his (direct) purview. It’s only a fraction of the total spend that eventually needs to be strategically sourced, but it’s a good start if addressed. That would likely give the government savings of 15 Billion to 18 Billion and an incentive to force strategic sourcing through all the agencies that receive and/or control government funds.

And the savings will be magnified if the office really does improve the government’s records on contract past performance and takes advantage of inspectors’ general work in exposing waste, fraud and then suspends and debars “bad actor” contractors from getting work. (While some governments don’t believe past performance should be used against bidders in future RFPs, those of us in the private sector know that is the among the stupidest ideas ever and you don’t give a non-performer more work.) It’s one thing to overspend on a contract by 10%. It’s another thing to overspend by 100% because you awarded the contract to an entity that could not deliver.

And if Jordan is convinced that the office needs good, timely and robust past performance information and uses this as an incentive to evaluate the use of data to drive fact-based analytics in the acquisition process and moves to spend analysis and decision optimization / support systems, the savings opportunities for the U.S. Federal Government are an order of magnitude above what even the biggest corporations can hope to save with advanced sourcing efforts. For the US Federal Government, strategic sourcing is definitely worth the effort it will require.

And, for sure, this is another arms race the UK doesn’t want to win.