SOURCE: Government Executive Media Group

Government Business Council


March 09, 2015 13:57 ET

New Study Finds That Inadequate Attention to IT Procurement Rules Is Making a Serious Impact on Market Competitiveness

Survey Evidence Suggests Inattention to Federal Acquisition Regulations and Market Research Skills Gaps Could Undercut Federal Procurement's Promise of Objectivity

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - March 09, 2015) - Inadequate attention to IT procurement regulations may be more common and have a more serious impact on market competitiveness than previously thought, according to a report released by Government Business Council (GBC) and sponsored by Brocade.

Although 54 percent of respondents to a December 2014 survey indicate that their agency's IT procurement process is sufficiently competitive, many report that the practice of brand-specific sourcing (i.e., soliciting contracts for a particular brand of smartphone, rather than for smartphones in general) is increasingly commonplace. Among federal employees who report at least moderate familiarity with IT procurement, 42 percent say it is common for their agency to issue brand-specific contracts.

When asked why procurement offices turn to brand-specific sourcing, 35 percent of respondents point to vendor lock-in, 27 percent say doing so minimizes risk, and 23 percent attribute it to personal preferences or brand loyalty -- all of which are explicitly prohibited by federal acquisition regulations.

The survey findings also highlight market research, a core requirement for justifying brand-specific sourcing decisions, as an area requiring further attention and training. Only 38 percent of respondents felt that their agency's acquisition personnel possessed the necessary market research skills to determine which IT products and services provide the highest value - an essential skill for personnel responsible for selecting the most effective IT products and services for their agency.

"We believe this study sheds light on several major challenges that may still not be understood outside the procurement community," said Zoe Grotophorst, Manager of Research & Strategic Insights with Government Business Council. "Limiting inappropriate procurement practices and improving market research as a core competency can help ensure that agencies have access to high-value IT products and services while strengthening public trust in the process."

"This study reveals many barriers to the effectiveness of the current federal IT procurement process. Limiting competition and failing to follow federal acquisition regulations reduces opportunities for innovation and wastes limited budget dollars," said Anthony Robbins, vice president of federal for Brocade. "By minimizing vendor lock-in and other prohibitive federal acquisition regulations, government agencies will be free to procure the IT solutions and services necessary to successfully carry out their mission objectives and responsibly spend taxpayer dollars."

Other key findings of the study include:

  • Only 39 percent of respondents express confidence in their agency's ability to procure the IT products and services needed to achieve its mission objectives.
  • 38 percent say that their agency's IT requirements are often so specific that they implicitly violate the principle of vendor neutrality.
  • 62 percent of respondents believe that their agency's acquisition personnel possess a sufficient understanding of federal acquisition regulations.

The GBC report, The Competitive Landscape of Federal IT Procurement, assesses the perceptions, attitudes, and experiences of senior-level managers operating within 31 federal and defense agencies. The study is based on survey data collected from 299 individuals, serving at the GS/GM grade levels 11 through 15 and the Senior Executive Service.

To view the complete report, visit GBC at

A GBC infographic displaying the report's key findings can be found here.

A reaction to the report's key findings from Tony Celeste, Director of Federal Sales at Brocade, can be found here.

About Government Business Council

Government Business Council (GBC), the research arm of Government Executive Media Group, is dedicated to advancing the business of government through analysis and insight. GBC partners with industry to share best practices with top government decision-makers, understanding the deep value inherent in industry's experience engaging and supporting federal agencies.

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Contact Information

  • Contact: 

    Zoe Grotophorst
    Manager of Research & Strategic Insights
    Government Business Council
    +1 202-266-7335