Overview

Changing the way government acquires and procures.

The HHS Buyers Club is a HHS IDEA Lab sponsored project focused on addressing a critical problem in government: modernizing federal acquisition of information technology (IT) and related services. Given the expansion and impactful role of digital services throughout government, there are many opportunities to improve existing acquisition methods used to support government services, directly benefiting the public.

Purpose of HHS Buyers Club

Government acquisition and procurement methods are flawed. 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. Innovative strategies to leverage federal acquisitions processes are needed to seek both better value and outcomes for the services we provide the public.

Current federal acquisitions approaches reflect unnecessary operational and cultural barriers to success (planning, evaluation, award, and implementation), including but not limited to the lack of true end user and stakeholder engagement from cradle to grave in a manner that maximizes value while minimizing spend. We’re not implementing new regulations or any new statutes but rather emphasizing new strategies allowed under the FAR or other approved legislation. Acquisition cycles are longer than IT development cycles, creating an unnecessary, lengthy, and outdated way of performing mission needs. Acquisitions require agility, both in terms of planning and implementation.


Buyers Club Strategy

Resources

Use Case – HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) 

  • This document is example of an innovative acquisition.  It’s a use case using a Two-Stage, Down-Select Process for the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

Digital Services Playbook (DSP)

  • This document provides successful best practices (or “plays”) for digital services to be used as effective guidance for agile implementation and goes hand-in-hand with the TechFAR. Given the many challenges of our digital services projects, use of this playbook should contribute to higher project success.

TechFAR Handbook (TechFAR)

  • The TechFAR highlights the flexibilities in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that can help agencies implement “plays” from the Digital Services Playbook while allowing contractors to utilize an iterative, customer-driven software development process, which is successful in the private sector.
  • Modular contracting and agile implementation is supported by the FAR and explained in this valuable resource for procurement and other stakeholders.

Innovative Contracting Case Studies

  • We are using material from this document to develop new acquisition models, test methods, and educate stakeholders.

HHS Innovative Acquisition Decision Diagram & Narrative 


Communities of Practice

We are looking for feedback and participation in the HHS Buyers Club. Here are a couple different ways how you can get involved.

HHS Buyers Club Yammer Group

The HHS Buyers Club Yammer Group is for HHS Employees only. Join the HHS Buyers Club Yammer Group.

Federal-wide Buyers Club Listserv

All Federal government employees with an interest in this topic are invited to join a community of practice around innovative acquisition by signing up for the new “Buyers Club” email group (open to all .gov and .mil email addresses). Join the Federal-wide Buyers Club Listserve.

Government Procurement Innovation Google Group

Public forum for anyone interested in discussing the newly-released Innovative Contracting Case Studies. Join the Government Procurement Innovation Google Group.


Eligible Participants

The HHS Buyers Club is for key stakeholders (i.e. procurement, IT, financial,and program managers as well as private industry among others) who want to transform HHS’ acquisition and procurement practices in order to achieve better results and value for the government and public. More information on roles can be found below.

Roles

Every acquisition stakeholder plays a vital role and each has different needs and guidance. It takes leadership, organization, and forces of community and collaboration to successfully complete every acquisition. It’s always important to define who the stakeholders are in each project or acquisition, especially when they involve acquisition of IT services.

Given the high failure rate of government IT projects where deliverables are either late, exceed budgets, and/or don’t work well, it’s also critical to define stakeholder roles and their potential participation benefits. All too often during acquisitions, known and unknown stakeholders have an impact, but typically don’t work together from the initial determination of need. By defining potential benefits of collaborating at the earliest possible stage of an acquisition, every stakeholder can better understand their place in the acquisition process and inevitably see themselves as a vital team member.

Federal

End Users/Program staff

  • Role: Determine a need or requirement and immediately begin dialogue with federal Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) for effective acquisitions while staying engaged throughout the entire process.
  • Benefit: Receive consistent, effective acquisition guidance, information, and tools on all acquisition options.

Procurement officials

  • Role: Effectively participate early in the acquisition process by providing legally-allowable procurement guidance, more effective advisory services such as market research, and maintaining active involvement for planning, evaluation, award, implementation, administration, and close-out.
  • Benefit: Greater opportunity to understand mission needs, effectively interact with all stakeholders on an ongoing basis, and gain satisfaction by becoming more involved with customer and mission outcomes.

Financial management

  • Role: Effectively participate early in the acquisition process by providing more effective advisory services such as Federal Appropriations Law guidance, forecasting, severability and non-severability determination assistance, and maintaining active involvement for planning, evaluation, award, implementation, administration, and close-out.
  • Benefit: Greater opportunity to understand mission needs, effectively interact with all stakeholders on an ongoing basis, and gain satisfaction by becoming more involved with customer and mission outcomes.

IT staff (security, engineering/architecture, support, and so forth)

  • Role: Provide appropriate and early guidance on navigating complex issues essential to the acquisition process, such as 508 accessibility, security requirements, clearances, and emerging technology guidance since we are focused on information technology services.
  • Benefit: Greater opportunity to understand mission needs, effectively interact with all stakeholders on an ongoing basis, and gain satisfaction by becoming more involved with customer and mission outcomes.

Executive Leadership

  • Role: Support the use of new acquisition practices, models, and methods in order to achieve successful outcomes
  • Benefit: Maximizing taxpayer value while improving organizational effectiveness

Legal

  • Role: Provide legal review and guidance, where applicable.
  • Benefit: Greater opportunity to understand mission needs, effectively interact with all stakeholders on an ongoing basis, and gain satisfaction by becoming more involved with customer and mission outcomes.

HHS Buyers Club Project Manager via the IDEA Lab

  • Role: Provide strategic guidance, identifying opportunities to improve IT service acquisitions while collaborating and leveraging resources to achieve strategic objectives.
  • Benefit: Enabling HHS mission success

Private Sector

Prime and sub-contractors/vendors

  • Roles: Providing first-class, effective service delivery based upon actual customer needs through modernized IT service delivery while also contributing effective feedback to the acquisition community on how to improve all aspects of the acquisition process for everyone’s benefit. Iteration is essential and private sector technology moves at a rapid pace.
  • Benefit: Effective involvement with federal stakeholders as well as appropriate financial compensation. Enhanced partnership in a rapidly-evolving innovative technology landscape where communication and collaboration are vital to federal mission needs.

How to Apply

To participate in the HHS Buyers Club, email us at idealab @ hhs [dot] gov. Stay up-to-date on all Buyers Club activities by


Application Period

We review new acquisition opportunities on a rolling basis. If you think your next acquisition would fit into HHS Buyers Club contact us at Mark [dot] Naggar @ hhs [dot] gov. Stay up-to-date on all Buyers Club activities by


Contact Information

Mark [dot] Naggar @ hhs [dot] gov
HHS Buyers Club Yammer Group (Available only to HHS employees)

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, check out our FAQs page.