Building a more innovative, risk-taking acquisition workforce

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Joe Jordan, CEO of Supplier.ai and former administrator of federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, discusses how smart risk-taking can lead to a more innovative workforce, and what the Federal Acquisition Regulation has to say about it.


While government contracting officers tend to be more risk-averse, taking measured risks could be key to improving innovation speed in government. Linda Ott from the Energy Department’s Office of Project Management says that strategic risk taking will be important to their workforce in the future. Joe Jordan, CEO of Supplier.ai and former administrator of federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, says that smart risk-taking is something that will definitely grow in popularity.

 

“It is great to see continued focus on this, embracing innovation, smart‑risk taking. I want to underscore that this isn’t about just taking willy nilly risks and saying ‘Hey, I took a risk and failed.’ It is about data‑driven, risk‑taking that’s informed by analytics and strategic thinking, focused on getting the best outcome…” Jordan said. “People often point to the FAR, this 2000‑page book, and say ‘I can’t take risks because FAR doesn’t tell me how to do it.’ That is a bunch of hooey. Part one of the FAR, you don’t have to read the ensuing 52 parts, it says if something is not expressly prohibited in this book and comports with sound business judgment, you can do it. Underscoring that, making that the framework through which acquisition professionals and program offices view procurement, acquisition and getting what they need from the private sector, that’s how we are going to drive more innovation.”