Procurement Documents Show Why IT Reform Won’t Be Easy

Joseph Marks | Nextgov | October 11, 2012

Two solicitation documents posted yesterday demonstrate how difficult information technology acquisition reform -- a top priority for both the White House and Congress -- can be.

The first, for cloud hosting services at the Interior Department, has been a regular on FedBizOpps, the government’s contracting website, for months. The request for proposal dropped July 18. By August 27 the department had received 474 questions from vendors about the solicitation. Rather than respond to those questions one by one, Interior opted to re-issue the RFP multiple times until all the concerns had been dealt with. What may be the final set of clarification came out Wednesday.

Questions from vendors are to be expected with any complex solicitation. Nearly 500 questions, however, might suggest some basic miscommunication between acquisitions staff, IT staff and vendors. It’s also possible Interior, which has a painful history with cloud solicitations, simply went overboard with legal language that ended up causing more confusion than clarity...