Ask the CIO: NASA Procurement Innovation

NASA is reconstituting its knowledge evaluation group to enhance its determination making round acquisition.

The concept of utilizing knowledge to drive choices isn’t new for NASA. However with the transfer to centralize a lot of acquisition throughout the area company, knowledge evaluation grew to become extra important.

Karla Smith Jackson, the assistant administrator for procurement and the senior procurement govt at NASA, stated this data-driven evaluation strategy is totally different this time than earlier makes an attempt.

“We’re how will we use knowledge to get these higher acquisition outcomes? So what does that actually imply? We need to leverage e-business instruments. We all know we want a brand new contract writing system. We’re in the midst of market analysis for that to have the ability to get what we’re hoping is an entire procure-to-pay system. But when not, we’ll simply take the procure piece and let the CFO take care of the pay piece,” Jackson Smith stated on Ask the CIO. “We’re going to combine our grants, as effectively our cooperative agreements within the contracting writing system. That’s one massive factor that we’re . We’re , hopefully, integrating our acquisition forecasting instrument with that instrument, after which the planning and design of all of our e-business instruments.”

Assessment pricing developments

Smith Jackson stated the brand new instruments would assist contracting officers and others within the acquisition workforce consider proposals by analyzing charges and pricing, for instance.

She stated NASA has centralized its pricing operate the place every heart not has particular person specialists, however now there are 35 to 40 in a single workplace with specialization in sole supply awards, aggressive acquisitions in addition to business objects.

“That offers us quite a lot of functionality and suppleness from an information analytics to have the ability to have a look at pricing developments. We will have a look at charges primarily based on the scale of the enterprise, primarily based on geographical location or no matter phase of {the marketplace}. We’re populating databases and dashboard now, to get some perception into these areas in assist of higher pricing,” Smith Jackson stated. “We even have enterprise system challenges being accounting programs and estimating programs that our business companions might need. We’ll be working with the Protection Contract Administration Company in addition to the Protection Contract Audit Company to have the ability to get actual time knowledge to assist a few of our negotiators and business companions get to higher offers.”

NASA created a brand new division Enterprise Companies and Evaluation, which is led by Geoff Sage, who took over the lead position in August after spending 4 years because the NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Complement supervisor, to deliver new capabilities and instruments to the acquisition group.

One of many first areas the brand new workplace is taking up is procurement administrative lead time (PALT). The Workplace of Federal Procurement Coverage issued a memo in January 2021 aimed toward creating a typical definition and supplied steerage for a way companies can scale back their acquisition lead instances.

“Our first concern was knowledge integrity and knowledge cleaning or cleanup. We had a median in fiscal 2021 of 325 days for award of a contract, which we all know will not be appropriate. Meaning knowledge was enter right into a database that was not correct. We all know what occurred was once we made an award for an IDIQ contract, each job order that we’d order reached again to that preliminary award of the umbrella contract. So you then simply have a protracted PALT,” Smith Jackson stated. “We had been in a position to clear that up and we went to a median of 128 days in 2022. That was simply primarily based on knowledge cleaning and cleanup. With respect to that we’re now going to have the ability to baseline our PALT, be it a aggressive procurement, a modification or a sole supply procurement, after which be capable to work out the place are the lengthy poles within the tent? How will we get higher? The place will we go to streamline?”

Information driven-market analysis

Along with PALT, NASA is utilizing knowledge to enhance its acquisition forecast to business. Jackson Smith stated whereas the forecast already obtained kudos from distributors, her workplace desires to offer contractors the extra capabilities to type knowledge by location or commodity or schedule.

A 3rd space of focus round knowledge is bettering NASA’s market analysis.

“This goes to the guts of our means to get extra small companies into our group, our industrial provide chain or our provider base,” she stated. “Typically a small enterprise can’t maintain a group collectively if you happen to can’t get that requirement awarded in a well timed vogue. By having a market analysis, you recognize who’s succesful, who’s certified and when now we have prepared necessities, we hope to draw extra small companies.”

Having clear and real-time knowledge goes to be much less efficient until NASA has the programs to deal with it so Smith Jackson stated one other main precedence is bettering its procurement programs.

She stated NASA wants a brand new contract writing system because the at present one goes to sundown in 2028.

“Our expectation is we’ll full the market analysis inside the subsequent 30-to-45 days, and the plan is to get a request for proposals (RFP) out in late summer time,” Smith Jackson stated. “The opposite factor is with respect to an e-business instrument, we do anticipate to leverage best-in-class (BIC) automobiles. As soon as we all know what’s on the market, what we’re discovering out there analysis is essential. We don’t need to duplicate the wheel of different actions or different companies have one thing much like what we want, we’re going to be leveraging these skills and dealing with these companies.”

A part of not reinventing the wheel is a plan to take extra benefit of BIC, together with the brand new OASIS+ automobiles from the Basic Companies Administration.

Massive plans for OASIS+

Smith Jackson stated she plans to launch a discover to business to strongly encouraging them to get on OASIS+ as NASA will spend a major sum of money via that contract within the coming years.

“That can enable us to maneuver our spend beneath administration to finest in school contracts, after which we’ll be capable to leverage, not only a streamlined method and methodology of doing work, but in addition streamline proposal course of for business to have the ability to reply to NASA necessities,” she stated. “That’ll be transformational for us. I’ll even be one thing we’ll experiment first within the within the NASA Acquisition Innovation Launchpad (NAIL).”

Smith Jackson added the company doesn’t plan on spending 100% of its providers spend on OASIS+, however, via the NAIL, they’ll run a number of check instances and see the way it works for them.

NASA launched the NAIL earlier this month, modeling it after the Homeland Safety Division’s Procurement Innovation Lab. Her objective is to create a secure place for mission and acquisition specialists to experiment with methods to scale back cycle time and methods to be less expensive.

“The way in which the NAIL goes to be arrange is on the headquarters, the place I sit and the place we’re going to principally handle the framework. We’re placing collectively a NASA Innovation Council they usually’ll have a consultant from every considered one of our 10 facilities,” she stated. “What we’re searching for is proposed concepts for what we name enterprise stage innovation. We’re not searching for particular person improvements at every heart as a result of we’re going to have a testbed at every heart, the place we are able to experiment on as a lot smaller scale. However the issues that might be proposed to the headquarters might be enterprise stage. We’re two or extra facilities that might be impacted. Ideally, the complete enterprise would profit. We’re going to be searching for I discussed procurement improvements, but in addition we’re searching for program administration improvements. That NAIL Innovation Council might be feeding us these. Now as a companion to that we’re hoping to have a NASA business Innovation Council, and that may feed us improvements that business would love us to have a look at.”


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