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Michael Wooten, Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget, details the Cross-Agency Priority Goal of frictionless acquisition and some of the changes that have been made

Francis: One of the most important Cross-Agency Priority Goals for acquisition has a new name, some new leaders and some new measures. The CAP Goal formerly known as “improve management of major acquisitons” is now “frictionless acquisition.” One of the new leaders of the goal is Michael Wooten, Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget.

Mike, welcome, it’s good to see you again. What’s the reason for the name change and what is under the hood in the changes that you’ve made in this CAP Goal?

Michael: Thank you, first of all, it is great to reconnect, it’s been a while. This is a great opportunity for us to talk about the frictionless acquisition CAP Goal, we’re excited about that. So we view the frictionless acquisition CAP Goal as a capstone CAP Goal, and that is that it is a management platform to bring together ongoing and new work to modernize the arc of acquisition for both common and complex acquisitions from requirements development through contract and performance assessment. So it is critical in expanding our focus across the arc of acquisition. So at its birth, frictionless acquisition focused on reducing the time between “I need” and “I got.” I wanted to put it in the simplest terms, because some of the way we roll this out can seem a little technical and I want to make sure the language is clear. So again, at its birth frictionless acquisition focused on reducing the time between “I need” and “I got.” I need a thing, when we decide what the requirement is, and when we actually have it delivered. So it encompasses a rich set of activities that improve program management, contracting, and performance management, the full cycle of mission support activities. The supporting pillars also focus on some very important administration priorities, reducing barriers to entry and increasing the number of entities we do business with. And that includes new entrance into small business. Frictionless acquisition relies on a key perspective. This is important to note. We must recognize and understand the considerable flexibility built into our laws and regulations. I digress a second, but when I went to the confirmation hearing process, I was asked where are we going to cut. The focus there with that question was cutting back some of the complexity of regulations. But the reality is that some of the agencies do a better job under the same systems of regulations than others. So we have to ask ourselves, why it takes some agencies six months to purchase a particular good or service, when another agency can purchase the same exact thing in six weeks instead of six months. Both are operating under the same regulatory constraints. Put it this way: the reign of regulation falls equally upon all heads. But under this initiative, we want to ensure that agencies share better practices, especially that reduce the time between “I need” and “I got.”

Francis: Mike, there are a number of changes that I see this time around, and one of the things that struck me, as I look through the key milestones for each of the three strategies here, the change from last quarter said new on all of these. You’ve really revamped the way that you’re approaching this completely, haven’t you?

Mike: That is correct. This is a particularly new approach, but fundamentally, under frictionless acquisition, we’re committed to creating a culture of innovation, to leveraging the flexibility I talked about, to changing our processes, and getting to a new and better normal for our workforce, contractors and customers.

Francis: This arc of acquisition you referred to, it’s a great slide that I encourage people to look at on the President’s Management Agenda website where it is posted, but your arc of acquisition really covers the whole spectrum. You have a larger space devoted to common requirements than to complex requirements. What’s the story behind that?

Mike: I’m grateful for your asking that question, because it’s a story that needs to be told, and everyone needs to understand this. We spend a lot of time and energy focusing on the non-commercial items, the major systems buys. And they are important – they deliver such important national equipment and sometimes even services. But the fact is that this arc of acquisition depicts where the majority of the buys are, or more common buys. And so we wanted to make sure that was clear. That’s another reason for the transition to frictionless acquisition. We wanted to evolve the former capstone that focused on major acquisitions to a capstone that fully entails the entire arc of acquisitions.

Francis: There’s so much more here that I would like to dig into, Mike, and we don’t have time, but I’m grateful for you coming on, and it’s a good reason for us to invite you back. Thanks very much.

Mike: Thank you. Thank you very much.

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