The Important "Same Page" That Is Federal Government Acquisition - Part 1

December 08, 2021 00:36:31
The Important "Same Page" That Is Federal Government Acquisition - Part 1
I See What You Mean
The Important "Same Page" That Is Federal Government Acquisition - Part 1

Dec 08 2021 | 00:36:31

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Show Notes

Getting on the same page is a significant challenge in Federal government contracting. Experts from government and industry - numbering from a few to hundreds and representing every technical, management, contractual, program, legal, human resource and budget aspect of a problem and solution - must get on the same page, and stay there, to succeed. What's more, those same experts strive, together, to constantly innovate the acquisition process. My guest this week, Dr. Tim Cooke, CEO and owner at ASI Government, is passionate about this mission.

ASI Government has a reputation for helping the Federal government innovate the acquisition process. Tim and ASI have decades of experience, insights and lessons about exactly how the enormous enterprise which is the Federal government has improved its acquisition practices over time. And about how it continues innovating in the face of relentless technological change which impacts acquisition in ways no one can predict.

Tim and I recorded our discussion in two parts and here are some of my ahh-ha! moments from Part 1:

6:38 - Busting myths to change behaviors and, eventually, a mindset.

8:33 - The "mindset" adoption curve, innovators, and early adopters.

10:43 - The DHS Procurement Innovation Lab: The power of Federal officials showing Federal officials

15:58 and on - Working across government silos within an acquisition team.

24:11 - The forcing function for change: Acquisitions take too long.

25:29 - The secret to completing acquisitions in less time: Talk to one another. 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 Welcome to, I see what you mean a podcast about how people get on the same page or don't, or perhaps shouldn't today. My guest is Tim cook. Tim has a federal government consultant colleague and CEO and owner at ASI government. Tim, welcome to the show. Speaker 2 00:00:22 Thank you, Lou. It's great to be with you today. My brief background is PhD in economics consultant at CNA for the Navy, and then a variety of stents in business. And this is the capstone for me, uh, being able to, to have, and run my own company. ASI, Speaker 1 00:00:39 The ASI government has a reputation for helping the federal acquisition community solve problems and innovate, and you go back quite a number of years. Uh, the problems have changed over time and the innovations have changed over time. Give us a little background and then tell us what you're getting people on the same page about today. Speaker 2 00:00:57 So when the company was founded, the founders were professional acquisition folks out of the air force and there was something called acquisition reform that was going on, uh, sponsored at that time by secretary Perry and the defense department. And it was, it was its own thing. It had a life of its own and it had a limited time and it was really trying to push change onto the acquisition community, including the contracting folks and the program managers and all the other people involved in the acquisition process. You know, that era is long gone and the problem is of that era are long gone nowadays, what I observe and what I'm in the midst of is helping people who are in the system, working the system, getting frustrated a bit with the system and saying, we have to find ways to do this better. I need to talk to some people and we need to try some different ways to do this. Interesting. So it's been a real evolution. Speaker 1 00:01:56 So I'm going to stay on this question for a moment because there's a popular conception. I think sometimes misconception that things don't change in government. Nothing changes things stay the same, no matter what we do. So say another word about you. You, you said very specifically there were problems at that time to be solved and, and that's past what, what was it that you were working on them that maybe we make some progress on as an acquisition community that, so that, that makes today a different set of problems? Speaker 2 00:02:29 Yeah, so I was a little bit involved in that I wasn't central to that work at that time, but the folks who were at the company at that time, I was actually at SRA international, helping defense acquisition university, uh, try to Institute some changes at the time. We understood very well that the risk aversion in the process, the concern about the law, the possibility of unintentionally breaking a rule or a law or a regulation, uh, was there. And so the people in the process, especially the contracting officers didn't want to get anywhere near that so-called edge of the box, right? So I have a box I can work in. I'm not going near the edge because I could get in real trouble. So what we did at the time was we actually, uh, made movies, believe it or not, we hired professional actors with the AAU and created scenarios to try to show people what it was like to skate a little closer to the side of the rink or near to the edge of the box and what that behavior looked like and felt like issue with that was when they got back to the office, no other people were still doing the same thing. Speaker 2 00:03:36 And so there was no way to, to Institute that. Sure. Speaker 1 00:03:40 And the system of formal and informal system of reinforcements or punishments remain the same around those folks for some time. So you were trying to show them behavior change that still was within the box, got a little closer to the edge. But when then, like you said, when you went back to work, they worked in a system that, that still may be constrained them. Speaker 2 00:04:02 Yeah. The, the system was suffocating. Uh, and, and, and to be honest, we didn't make a lot of progress at that time today, what we have are people on their own initiative who are top to bottom side to side, supported by leadership, deciding to, to try to do different, different things, Speaker 1 00:04:20 Different ways. That's huge. Speaker 2 00:04:23 It feels like an avalanche to me, right. Having been there the first, the first round for me, the first round, right? Uh, and now experiencing this, this is an avalanche of change, which is coming from the accumulation of snow, if you will, on the side of the mountain. Right. And eventually it reaches a tipping point where it just starts to fall Speaker 1 00:04:47 Under, under its own weight. Yeah. Well, that's a, that's a very significant mindset and organizational culture or acquisition community culture shift that you're talking about. You and I might've talked about this before. I have a definition of culture I used that had, is as operational as I can get it. Maybe you can help me improve this. And I, I, I want to mention it because I'm going to ask you about the changes you've seen in the organizational, in the culture of the acquisition community. It's a shared rationale. That's important because it's not an individual rationale. It's a shared rationale for why people do simplified what they do on their job and not something else. So in other words, it's why they spend their time and their talent the way they do and not in some other way. So back in the day, that was the first round for you. Speaker 1 00:05:35 If D contracting officers were very conservative out of that fear of being too close to the edge, because they got in trouble, they made choices of things they did and didn't do for that reason. That was the rationale. And to the degree that that rationale was shared by CEOs across the air force or the military or the government, that's a shared, that's the shared rationale today, what you're describing is if you say individuals up and down and across the government supported by contracting individuals, professionals up, down and across the government, supported by leadership or actively seeking ways to do things better. That's a huge shift. And that's the shift in the rationale by which they perform their function. Now they don't, they're not feeling constrained that there's that fear of getting in trouble. They're seeking out faster, better, more, maybe innovative ways of getting the job done. You've spent you unsa government span that. So tell me what you think happened. Speaker 2 00:06:38 Yeah. So, so here, we're talking about the adoption of innovation, right? And the things that influence adoption, uh, I would say that, you know, there was before maybe even before ASI, there was something called the Mythbuster's campaign. They should probably around the same time, around the same time as, as ASI got going. Uh, and the MythBusters came out of the office of federal procurement policy and it was basically attacking these I'll call them urban legends, which were like, yeah, can't do that. Or you'll go to jail. Right. And some of the things are really pretty straight forward. Like I can't talk to industry because I'm working, you know, on a early stage of an acquisition, I can't speak with you. Well, guess what, if you don't speak to us, we can't figure out what you want. So from an industry perspective, they really want to talk government folks think they can't talk. And that mythology really got in the way Speaker 1 00:07:37 Because it wasn't factually Speaker 2 00:07:39 Correct. That's correct. So the Mythbuster's campaign was to say to the entire workforce, that's not correct. You can actually do that, but here's some ways you can do that. So, you know, this has been, um, sort of melting the ice slowly. Uh, it's, it's kind of been a 20 year process, but th those NIS are the shared rationales for why people do what they do. I would say that, uh, today the adoption of these innovations creation and adoption of these innovations, which we can talk about when we talk about the, the periodic table and some of the other things that we've worked on, you know, you've got the usual early, the got the, the innovator, the early adopter, the, the, you know, the next stage of adopter. And then at the end you have the library, right. You know, some people never get out of the laggard phase. Speaker 2 00:08:33 Right, right. It has to be forced on them. I'll tell you that there've been a higher percentage of, of early adopters. So not only have there been more innovators, like people creating stuff. And when you think about that, you should think about the great work that the DHS pill, procurement innovation lab, uh, under Sariah Korea's leadership has done. They have really tested the limits, uh, and under strong leadership. Uh, the air force has a fabulous program of sort of testing and learning and sharing the special operations command, uh, under, uh, Hondo Geurts, uh, down in Tampa has a tremendous record of innovation. And it's really all based on the same thing. Let's try something new. Let's think about how do we do this better. And then when we do let's experiment with it, and then from those experiments, whether they succeed or fail, let's learn from those experiments. Right. And go back around the cycle again, for the organizations that are doing that. Those are the innovative guys and, uh, other people are following. Uh, so there's now been several attempts. So department of commerce department of agriculture are all experimenting with these procurement innovation organizations. Would you say Speaker 1 00:09:53 That the federal government is huge, right? You got the defense agencies, civilian, a lot of contracting activities concentrated in Washington, but it's spread around the country. It's huge. Would you say that over time, over that slow ice melt, there were people like Sariah, SOCOM, Speaker 2 00:10:14 Hondo, and, and, uh, um, I'll say, uh, general Holt and his former boss in the air force. I mean, they just, they stuck their necks out. Okay, Speaker 1 00:10:25 Good. A good way to put it. And would you say that over time, enough of them did that? They were, they were, they were the, on the leading edge of the adoption curve. Others were watching and then it, it slowly made it safe for others to try. Do you think that's what happened? Speaker 2 00:10:43 That is true. I believe that's true. And we're seeing people actively now reaching out to, for example, Sariah's organization and to the air force, to, to sort of learn from that experience. So, so they have a road show. The, the DHS, Phil has a roadshow. They go around to not just DHS, uh, a unit business units there, but they go to other departments and they say, here's what we're doing. Here's how it works. Uh, here's some examples of our success and folks are all in. Speaker 1 00:11:15 I can answer peoples. They can ask your questions because some staff person who's sitting there in the audience is going to say, but what about this? And it might be a myth Buster type question, or it might not be, somebody might be attempting something and they can benefit by the president enters experience of being out ahead of the curve on. So that's a fabulous, I always found that when you set up the forum where a feds could talk to feds, there was a lot of credibility in, in, in, in, in this conversation. Exactly. And then you and I were involved with, Speaker 2 00:11:51 So I was just going to say one of the things that they share from the pill at which if you look at their annual report, which is online, anybody can get, it emphasizes the federal acquisition regulation. Part one part, one says, if it makes sense for the government and it's not illegal, you can do it. So that's inspirational to the folks who are interested to try new things. Speaker 1 00:12:17 It absolutely is. It's, it's, it's covered. And of course, Sariah was big on that. That's right. I was very big on cover. And she would say to people, if it doesn't say you can't do it, just find a smart, safe way to do it, but don't try it. Don't back off because, and she was trying to give cover for all the years that she was in the position that I, when I knew her, and then you've got groups like act Dayak, which you and I you're still involved in and very, very, very closely I was involved in. And there was that, that coming together of industry and government, I think was, I don't know, a little bit of an incubator of those ideas could be shared. Speaker 2 00:12:58 Um, and they could be, it's a unique environment. Uh, so the, one of the reasons I like act diag is the rules of engagement are no sales speeches from industry, you know? And, and so government and industry can get together in ways that you don't see right outside of that sort of shell, of safe space. Speaker 1 00:13:20 It's not a, yeah. It's, it's you set the sales aside. We should mention American council on technology and the industry advisory council, right. Government official to two associations really, right. Are two organizations, one association, government professionals, industry professionals. And they come together in literally a joint way and everything they do right from the leadership of it, to all the sub, the, whatever they call the committees and work groups that they're always coating. Speaker 2 00:13:50 That's correct. It's a partnership, uh, for better government. Speaker 1 00:13:54 Well, let's dig into this some more. And the phrase being on the same page, getting on the same page has a common notion, meaning common language, meaning what does it mean as you see it in, in the acquisition innovation work you're doing? Speaker 2 00:14:07 So this is really critical. And in this case, it's primarily associated with silos of expertise, because this is a complex business specialists are needed. So contracting officers get years of training, they get certifications, they get all kinds of, uh, badges and a new name it, right? And then they get authorized to spend the government's money, right? And no one else can do that. Speaker 1 00:14:35 And they are, they are warranted to do that. Correct? Individual human being has a warrant, very important responses, Speaker 2 00:14:43 Really, really critical, right? Because no one else can obligate the governance. That is a specialty, absolutely essential to this acquisition business, but it's not the whole thing. In fact, those people in that specialty are notionally in support of the government's missions. Okay. So they are there to be an enabler. And if you look at the recent presidential management agenda from president Biden, you'll see that it's explicitly calling out acquisition as an enabler of the priorities of the administration and their massive new priorities that are going to require a ton of new work. And those folks are really busy right now, figuring out what all that means. So you have the program manager, who's got the responsibility for delivering the mission of the contracting officer who knows the rules and can obligate money to the private sector. You have industry partners, you have the lawyers who review everything from a legal perspective. You have the financial management guys who are experts in the money and how that money can be spent. So it's a, it's a big team of people who all have to get on the same page about what they're Speaker 1 00:15:54 Doing. And that's just on the government side, Speaker 2 00:15:57 But that's just on the government side. Speaker 1 00:15:58 Stay, stay, stay there for a moment, but that's just on the government side. Okay. And you said silos, you mentioned silos of expertise. So those are the folks that are selling. Speaker 2 00:16:08 Yes, correct. So they all had their own languages, their own vocabularies, their own ways of thinking their own priorities. The things that they think are the most important, right. And none of them are really the same. So that all has to get brought together in pursuit of the mission if someone wants. Speaker 1 00:16:25 And the thing is, if someone, sorry, if someone doesn't know federal contracting, they wouldn't realize that even all those parties that you just mentioned, they look to different parts of the, of, of, of, um, law and regulation that they're responsible to. And if you ever got called up to Capitol hill to give an accounting of something, there could be so many different congressional committees you might go before. So what I'm saying, what I mean to say is when you said those folks have different priorities and objectives, they're real, we're not just this, not some notional language of, oh, you know, all organizations Coca-Cola is a big organization that everybody's got, everybody's siloed, but you're talking about a case where government professionals are accountable under law and regulation, different laws and regulations, and responsible within an administration and to cap, Speaker 2 00:17:18 Right? So that's correct all of the above. And I'll just say that the world for them has gotten really complex for all of them. But especially for the guy on the tip of the spear, the contracting officer remains the person. Who's the only person who can obligate the government, right. That person has to simultaneously balance all of the acquisition policies of the government and look what you have. Now. You've got diversity inclusion and equity you've got, which means expanding money. That goes to a small and disadvantaged businesses. You've got cyber concerns that they have to factor into any of their, it it's a big deal. They now have climate considerations, which is a whole new world of decarbonizing the economy and what the administration is expecting them to incorporate in their procurements. That just to be a good citizen, but to try to drive industry, to innovate and create solutions and technologies that we don't have today that are even hard to imagine when it comes to making concrete without, without carbon dioxide production. Uh, so how do, how do you do all of these things at the same time? Yeah. In every procurement is a very challenging job. Speaker 1 00:18:34 So, uh, my question to you was what's, what's it mean in the, in the work you do to get people on the same page you've mentioned, or an acquisition, all the critical roles that are, and, and you talked about this, the CEO at the head of the pointy end of the spear, who who's maybe best positioned in some ways to try to bridge those silos, to try to, you know, to try to, to try to cross those silos a lot to balance, right. A lot to so many trade-offs to Tim within any of those spaces and across them, what's going on in the contracting world today that is helping prepare existing CEOs or incoming CEO is a generation of contracting officers, the next generation for a role that's different than in a way as you described it. Speaker 2 00:19:21 Yeah. So, so I've involved with the national contract management association, which is a professional association, not for profit, and I'm on the board of advisors. And I get to see that association endeavoring and I'm participating in endeavoring, uh, then to educate this community and to, uh, bring it to its peak. And it is actively supported by all those people we mentioned before, uh, people like general Holt and survived and, uh, you know, all those folks are really engaged with them. Uh, and their interest is in enabling their workforces to handle the massive complexity of this job. You know, we're no longer in an era where we're pretty, you know, we were buying Jeeps, we're not buying, you know, that's not the hard stuff anymore. Right. Um, technology is accelerating, editing, incredibly rapid pace. And what happens is it's embedded in the systems that we buy, whether the defense or civilian systems, and by the time we can get our hands on it, it's two generations out of date. Yeah. Because it moves so fast. Okay. Speaker 1 00:20:34 Uh, the, the episode I add to that leader said the episode, what is today where we are today's Wednesday? No, today's Tuesday. The episode that I released last Wednesday was with Denelle Barrett, retired. We were adding more and had a lot to do in the Navy with cybersecurity and telecommunication. And then she made the comment to me that what we really have to watch out for, in addition to the very rapidly accelerating technologies, which it's hard enough to keep up with. She said, if you look to the points where several of them converge into something new, it's like, wow, no, one's even few people are thinking about that. The convergence of technologies can offer some things that really could be big questions for an acquisition community to wrestle with. Speaker 2 00:21:20 So imagine trying to write a specification these days, like they used to do right. All the way down to the NATS eyelashes. I want to buy this. Okay. It's impossible. So you have to give space and the space, in my opinion, and what we've been working on at ASI for 25 years, the spaces, what are the objectives that I have the space is what am I trying to accomplish? But before that even comes this new idea of just tell the industry what your problem is, right? Give them some context and say, Hey, industry, here's what I'm trying to solve and make it as simple as it can be, but not any simpler. Give people the context and have industry bring all their creativity and their smarts to that problem and let them solve it instead of solving it for them. Speaker 1 00:22:17 So you touched on a few, a couple of very important points there about what it means to, to get on the same page. I like to think, and people have disagreed with me on this. You know, Dale alluded to, I do Dale disagreed with me on this in a really fascinating way. You should listen to what I said. I said, I think we're all on our own pages. This could apply to individuals. It does apply to individuals. We can imagine applying to roles, the kind of roles you've described in the, on the government side of federal acquisition. We're all on our own page where we belong. We have jobs to do. We have responsibilities. We have objectives. We answer to somebody in our job to be on the same page as to create that page from the own pages, from, from the separate pages. And it, and it doesn't mean you leave behind your page cause you, you can't, it's related to your job, but you have to create the same page from some material that is joint or, or combined that integrates that solves a bigger problem or mission that's superordinate to all the separate objectives. Speaker 1 00:23:25 Okay. So, so, uh, they all said, I don't think so. Do I think that God bless his heart. He came with this from a very faith based place and said that he thought same page as existed. And it was our job to discover them. I loved that. We had a great conversation about it, but I want to ask you, what's changing in the, on the government side. So not even involving industry yet, which we have to get to, what's changing on the government side, in the conversations they're having within their teams that, that are, that you and I are talking about so that they are changing the conversations to produce the better solicitation that gets them, the buy that they, that they, that solves a problem that they have. Those conversations are different than they used to be. How are they, what are they like today? Speaker 2 00:24:11 Yeah. So tell you some stories here real quickly. The forcing function is that acquisition just takes too long. It flat out takes two. It takes two years on average to get even a modest RFP out on the street awarded even without protest, I throw in some protests and you're out to two and a half or three years. That's just too long. Okay. So people have said, and these are mainly contracting folks who said, I got to do something different. So what, what they have done, and we have responded to several of these requests for proposals is asked for industry to come in and help facilitate moderate, create a conversation that is, uh, beneficial to the entire team, to get everyone on the same page, understand the different languages, understand the different vested interests within the government, not industry necessarily, but within the government. Right? And to fundamentally through empathy and through a sort of honest concern for the different silos, bring them together in a way that they can't really do on their own easily, right? Speaker 2 00:25:29 Because the moment someone from a silo tries to become the facility or it stops being a facilitation. So that's, we're doing this work in the IC, uh, and in the civilian agencies, we've done it historically and DHS and a little bit for the, uh, services. So, but it's, it is a way to change the conversation. And again, the forcing function is just time. Like, it's God, we got to figure out how to make this go faster. And guess what the hidden secret is it's hidden in plain sight. The hidden secret is if people talk to each other, as they develop the procurement, they get it done faster. Speaker 1 00:26:08 There's nothing like one person put their thoughts down on paper and passing that document back and forth to a lot of other people to bogged down. Right? Speaker 2 00:26:18 So it's the transom, right? We just throw it back and forth. We're never satisfied. Speaker 1 00:26:24 Well, it looks, which is implied in what you said, which I want to call out. Cause I think it's critical is if you actually talk to one another, Tim and Lou exchanged a document and were asked to comment while you offered it, Arthur doesn't matter. And the other person's commenting on it. It can take a long time to be, to come to understand that we mean the same thing by some of those key terms in there. And we might never, we might not even know we didn't or what might not matter to them. I got to move on. I got other things to do. This is going to have to go the way it is. If we talk to one another, we can be sure where we have a better chance. I think of being sure. We mean the same things by the same terms, we are sizing things up the same way and not different ways accidentally. Speaker 1 00:27:10 It's okay if you size things up in different ways, but you know, it don't miss each other on that because what you end up doing is that, that the act, the contract is a means to an end, right? There's certain things you fail to line up. You don't know that that contract will accomplish that end. And so the more you talk through it, the earlier stages that you get on the same page about, uh, Tim, I, I see what you're saying. That's why I call the, the podcast. I see what you mean. It's that aha moment when you go, all right, I see what you've been saying. I didn't get that that way. Now. I understand when I understand what you're thinking and why I have a better chance of connecting it to what I'm thinking of, why, and if I share it with you, maybe we jointly come to an understanding and agreement that we can move forward with, that can remain hidden. Speaker 2 00:28:03 We've had so many of those loo, uh, in the work that we do where people have that aha moment. Oh, I get it. That's why you keep saying this. Right. Um, and you know, and the difference between monologues and dialogues right, is, is they're, they're two completely different species. And those that throw the paper back and forth as a monologue. Okay. When people can sit down and have a dialogue, or maybe a multi-part dialogue with the different silos involved three or four or five of them at the same time, you can make a lot of progress really quickly. Speaker 1 00:28:37 Let's bring industry into this discussion that we're having. And then let's move in. Then after that, let's go to, uh, an example that you can share of how you saw what we're talking about happen, government industry, or a true partnership through acquisitions, because because government has a problem to solve and maybe resources to commit to it, and industry has some solutions and resources to commit to it. So that coming together, there's a lot of what makes our society work. Talk to add, add to this discussion, we're having the perspective of industry and how even, even companies in competition with each other, but could still be in a dialogue with each other in government about how to approach a problem, solving the problem, just start with a basic, the approach. Sure. Speaker 2 00:29:24 So I mean, the first thing I would say is that, uh, industry, uh, in most cases is as committed to the government mission as the government is, these are people in the private sector that, you know, choose to make a living, supporting the goals and objectives. The government, there are easier ways to do it, um, and true. Uh, uh, they're very committed to those missions. So, and they want to be partners. They want to collaborate with government. They want to deliver meaningful solutions that are outcome oriented. Like we got the people what they needed on time. And so, you know, running through the theme of what we've talked about so far is this notion of collaboration and acquisition is a system that's built on competition. There's a competition in contracting act Seca, which drives much of the behavior of the acquisition community. There is not a collaboration in contracting act. In fact, there is great fear of a collaboration and contracting act because of the Speaker 1 00:30:38 Potential Speaker 2 00:30:39 For the exactly for bad behavior. Right? Right. And so it ultimately comes down to the ethical behavior of well-intended contracting folks in the government to make sure that what they do has the high ground, not only of legality, but a morality. Right. And there's nothing that can substitute for that personal sort of character principles, et cetera. Exactly. Speaker 1 00:31:08 So you're on the government side, you want to engage contractors in a conversation, knowing that in the end, when you release that solicitation, the competition begins, right. What's happening these days, that's, that's in that in-between space, the government's had its conversation, or maybe it's continuing this conversation about the need about the requirement, but we're not to the competition phase yet. What's happening in that in-between phase where they're engaging industry in conversations about a particular problem, not, not the broad process questions, which we have to talk about to make them better, but a real, a particular problem and a solution. And you're engaging people who will be competition one in a few weeks or a few months. Speaker 2 00:31:51 Yeah. So I'll just say, not only has MythBusters eventually made a kind of difference in the government's attitude about those conversations, but the maturity and the spread of observed behavior. Like I'm watching that, guy's talking to those companies, I guess I could do that too. Right. And things that are outside the far completely like other transactions, which I haven't mentioned yet. Right. You know, explicitly allow for communication continuously between the government and industry and not just one company, but of all the PR all the interested companies can have a dialogue with the government, uh, in that other than far right environment. Speaker 1 00:32:34 Right. What kind of forum Speaker 2 00:32:37 That's. So they have, they have all kinds of forms, but a typical process would be that they start with, uh, a defined problem statement. Okay. So the government guys get together and they write a problem statement. They publicize that problem statement through variety of means, right. But they get it out to industry and they get it out to the, the segments of industry that they know are interested. Uh, and then they feel a bunch of questions potentially, but more likely, they're going to ask for a five page or 10 page response, how would you solve this problem? What can you bring to the solution to this problem? Make it short, make it sweet. Crispy is better than soggy, right? And then after they've heard from everyone, they moved to sort of phase two and phase two is, is often either a demonstration of a capability. Speaker 2 00:33:28 You know, show me, don't tell me, right. Or it's a, an elaboration of an approach that they've used elsewhere. And then they moved from there sequentially in a modular way, which is very critical attribute of what I'll call a modern acquisition, modular beats, big bang, every time it's a way to manage risk, especially if you're near, near the edge of the box. You want to make sure you're not putting too much at risk. So people are doing a good job. Like I see this around the government, uh, not just in the defense department with the OTAs and the other things, but you know, what IRS is doing is pretty fabulous under pilot, IRS and others, uh, DHS and others are doing similar, uh, call it, buying like a VC. Okay. When a venture capitalists put seed money, that's sort of the initial round of angel investment or something into a company, they see how it goes. If it's working, they put more out the first round, the AA stage money, then they do B and then C. But they're always looking for that proof of the return on investment, right. Uh, as they go Speaker 1 00:34:38 Are the earliest stages of the government interaction with industry still largely paper-based where, like you said, they would publish the problem statement and ask for short responses to it are some more interactive conversation. Yes. Speaker 2 00:34:54 So my experience having participated in a couple of these is there's usually an interview. It's not actually an interview, but there's a meeting, uh, with the principals that follows the written five page response or something. And it doesn't have to be that it's, you've got unlimited leeway here. You can just say, come and show me what you've done. Like literally show me what you have that works. If it's software it's software, if it's something else, show me that. Yeah. You know, and then they've got all the leeway in the world to decide what to do next. Speaker 1 00:35:26 That's true. And, and that's, they, the acknowledgement of that, and the exercise of that is probably one of the biggest changes over the last 20 years. Cause I imagine 20 years ago and I wasn't in, I was in federal contracting 20 years ago, but I was at, I was at a task level and I saw, I didn't, I didn't have the perspective on this that I do today. I think it probably was more by the numbers. Speaker 2 00:35:49 The last five years loss it's been, tell me, don't show me, like write me 150 page proposal and tell me what you're going to do nowadays. It's like, you know, I don't care when you say, I want to see what you can do. Speaker 1 00:36:04 And that concludes the first of two episodes, Tim and I recorded join us for the second. When we talk about ways that government continues improving proposal evaluations, significant program innovations that led to successful acquisitions in a group of professionals, imagining the acquisition of the future at a time when technology convergence presents opportunities and challenges unknown today,

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