Government agencies need help purchasing and managing digital tools and services, according to the United States Digital Service (USDS). And to help fix this problem, it formed a team of acquisition experts to advise on related strategies that can get better value for taxpayer money.
The USDS is calling this team the Procuremenati, and one of its digital services experts, Clair Koroma, took to Medium to share what it's all about. Simply put, the group exists to help government spend better in the digital space. It consists of eight members: six from the USDS and two from the Department of Homeland Security. In the two years since the Procuremenati group formed, it has worked to familiarize public servants with the evolving digital services market, outfit government with tactics to craft better contracts and let the private sector know government is interested in spending on innovation.
The Procuremenati is also not limiting itself to a strictly advisory role. It helped create TechFarHub.cio.gov, a public site built with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy that guides government acquisition experts as they navigate regulations and write better contracts. In the Department of Defense, the team created a new type of contract to streamline selecting non-traditional vendors. With the General Services Administration, it established the first government-wide agile vendor pool for salesforce integrators. And, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, it built a requirement that vendors attend in-person interviews to demonstrate technical skills.
The group has provided many other changes to the ways various government agencies operate as well.
“Our team’s work is helping agencies improve the effectiveness of their digital services," Koroma writes, "while at the same time getting the best return on investment for taxpayers’ dollars spent on those services.”
While improving purchase value wasn’t immediately part of the USDS mission, providing this sort of expertise is very much in keeping with its overall objectives. Launched in 2014 after the massive failure of healthcare.gov, the USDS works to simplify government digital services and improve federal websites.
Although there was recently some question over what would happen to the agency in the transition from Obama to Trump, the new administration’s chief digital officer, Gerrit Lansing, has reiterated his support, recently tweeting, “FYI: USDS is here to stay in the new administration. Period.”