HHS Idea Lab’s Buyers Club

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By Mark Naggar, contract specialist for CDC
Twitter: @HHSIDEALab
Twitter: @MarkNaggar

The HHS Buyers Club – What Is It?

Welcome to the HHS Buyers Club – a HHS IDEA Lab sponsored project focused on addressing a critical problem in government, effective and efficient procurement of information technology. Given the expansion and impactful role of digital services throughout government, there are many opportunities to improve existing procurement methods used to support government services, directly benefitting the public. It has been widely recognized that government access to and use of technologies that support data and information management are lagging behind the private sector. According to the 2013 Chaos Manifesto from the Standish Group, all IT projects in excess of $10 million were found to be challenged or failed, 52% and 48%, respectively. Of course, this only leaves a 10% success rate. Innovative strategies to leverage federal acquisitions processes are needed to seek both better value and outcomes for the services we provide the public.

Where Do We Start?

The best place to start is by understanding the problem and reason why large IT service projects fail, then experimenting with strategies to solve the actual problem or set problems. Increasing the aforementioned success rate and benefit to the government will require a collaborative approach, including but not limited to the following:

  • Identifying and documenting the problems and barriers (whatever they may be) through engagement with key stakeholders, especially end users.
  • Rethinking acquisition processes – forecasting, planning, competing, awarding and administering, and evaluating. (Basically, from beginning to end). The same way successful start-ups address critical problems and needs

What We’re Planning To Do Or At Least Thinking About?

  • Testing innovative procurement methodologies for IT service acquisition (and sharing the results in Use Cases for everyone to benefit), examples include:
    • Website redevelopment with an open-source content management system solution
    • Large-scale enterprise lifecycle revisions
  • Developing newer, easier, and more effective procurement models and processes, and
  • Engaging all key stakeholders with effective mutually-beneficial education/outreach

How You Can Help?

  • Discuss the HHS Buyers Club with your colleagues – Recruit them to join and help raise awareness about innovative procurement methods – so everyone can benefit!
  • Ideas – Share them on the Yammer page
  • Identify Problems and Barriers – Identify barriers and problems in your own areas and solicit help from others to solve them, and share the results.

This community-driven and community-focused project requires key stakeholders to collaborate, participate and share so that the entire group may benefit. A Yammer page has been set up that is available for all HHS employees and I encourage each and every one of you to join, collaborate to solve problems, and share vital resources that will help others. As a large organization focused on health and human services, it’s difficult to communicate across StaffDivs and OpDivs. Yammer is an incredible tool like Facebook enabling all of us to inform, share, and learn from one another. So, let’s learn from failure, success, and ideas on how we can craft better procurement strategies for the benefit of HHS. While there aren’t any free food samples or discounts – at least membership is free!

This article was originally published in the Idea Lab Blog.