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What problems are we trying to solve with performance-based acquisition?

If you can identify with any of these bullets, we can help.
  • The acquisition process is really challenging! How do I get on the same page with my Contracting Officer? How do I know the Contract will meet my needs?
  • On my fixed price contract my service provider always says it’s "out of scope" or an expensive change order. Why do I feel like they’re running the show and I have no control?
  • No matter what I do, they always have a reason for failing to meet my needs. What can I do about it? How do I hold them accountable?
  • It takes so long to run an acquisition! I need better services now! How do I speed up this process?
  • I don’t want another poor performer taking control of my service delivery, but I don’t know how to do a performance-based contract nor does my Contracting Officer. How do I do this right?
  • They're nickel-and-diming me to death on changes. Why is the contract so full of holes? What can I do to turn things around?
  • I have too many service providers running around and all they care about is their corporate agenda. Why won’t they play nice with the other contractors and behave like a team?
  • I am getting ready to transition from my current service provider to a new service provider. I worry about the Transition; there are so many things that can go wrong! How do I get organized?

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The Role ofPerformance-BasedAcquisition

What isPerformance-Based Acquisition?

The role of Performance-Based Acquisition (PBA) is to structure your acquisition around the results that you want versus the process or techniques used to achieve those results. PBA is less focused on the "how" and more focused on the "what". PBA has challenged Federal agencies since its introduction in 1991. Too often, performance-based contracts fail to deliver the desired results, leaving government agencies disappointed and frustrated and believing PBA may just be too difficult.

The root cause as to why PBA has been so challenging to Federal agencies includes the following. First, the government has outsourced so much of its technical service delivery that far fewer federal IT experts remain, which leaves the government at a disadvantage with regard to both requirements development and source selection. Second, the performance-based solicitation is a complex and highly integrated instrument that is more often than not a random collection of individual requirements that needs to be cobbled into a package and released to a confused and uncertain offeror community.  Finally, the retirement of so much of the contracting workforce has resulted in an overwhelmed, understaffed and overburdened community unprepared to negotiate and award complex IT services contracts.

At Octo, we believe that making the performance-based contract successful is achieved by confronting these challenges head-on. Our PBA practice area provides an integrated set of acquisition solutions spanning the full lifecycle of the acquisition from concept through close-out.  With relentless focus on rigor, quality, and results we steer our clients through the highly-regulated and increasingly complex world of Federal acquisition.  Adopting an end-to-end, lifecycle view, we support our clients by performing the critical tasks of the acquisition process and by providing our insights, gleaned from over $4B in IT acquisitions and over sixty individual acquisition projects.  The Octo PBA practice area advises and supports our clients in:

  • Conducting exhaustive market research to ensure requirements are framed in a manner consistent with industry leading practices and that provide minimal constraints to the offeror’ssolutions
  • Integrating experienced technical and engineering team members who understand how to convert technical specifications into performance-based requirements during the requirements development process
  • Changing the nature of the proposal and source selection process from one that rewards essay-writing ability to one that rewards proof of performance and innovation
  • Defining requirements with the rigor necessary to ensure government requirements are well-understood and pricing thatreflects reasonable expectations
  • Developing a performance management strategy and the associated, rigorous service level agreements to maximize the performance of the contract
  • Implementing rigorous post-award contract administration that ensures the government receives what it is paying for, on-time and of appropriate quality

Our experience spans a wide range of complex IT services and supplies acquisitions, including highly technical services such as cloud computing, mobile and traditional application hosting, enterprise service desk, enterprise email, directory services implementation, infrastructure support services, and enterprise resource planning systems implementation.


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At Octo Consulting we believe our client's success is based on two fundamental principles which underlie our approach to Performance-based Acquisition.   First, we take a lifecycle view of Performance-based Acquisition and second, we constantly consider the perspectives of the three primary stakeholders in the acquisition process; the Contracting Officer, Service Recipient, and Service Provider.  Our lifecycle view recognizes that the a Contract must be designed with Administration and achievement of performance outcomes in mind and, as such, we maintain that perspective throughout the main facets of our work; Acquisition Strategy formulation, Acquisition Planning, Requirements Development, Solicitation Development, and Post-award Administration.  We constantly challenge ourselves and our clients, asking whether each strategy or requirements decision will lead to a contract which can be administered effectively and which will achieve the desired outcomes.  We also understand that the success of Acquisition in general, and Performance-based Acquisition in particular, is heavily dependent upon balancing the needs of all three parties; Contracting Officer, Service Recipient, and Service Provider.  We understand what motivates each stakeholder and recognize that all three must be successful for the desired outcomes to be achieved.

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  • If you want to assess the maturity of your acquisition function…
  • Our PBA Assessment solution analyzes input from the Program, Technical, and Contracting participants to diagnose and recommend improvements in organization structure, process design and management, collaboration, communication, and coordination to optimize the process and outcomes of the acquisition.
  • If you need to define a performance management strategy and service level agreements…
  • Our PBA Metrics solution begins with the development of a performance management strategy which identifies the performance areas most closely tied to achieving mission outcomes. Based on this performance management strategy, we support our client through the development of rigorously defined Service Level Agreements looking closely at price-performance trade-offs, technical architecture considerations, and ease of contract administration.
  • If you need to plan for transition…
  • Our PBA Transition solution supports a comprehensive transition planning and execute process which encompasses all aspects of transition including Contract Baselining, Schedule Management, Risk Management, Communications and Training, Technical Oversight, Security Management, Knowledge Transfer, Process Alignment, and Outgoing, Incoming and 3rd Party Contractor Management.
  • If you need to develop performance-based task orders…
  • Our PBA Task Order Development solution supports the client in developing and competing Performance-based Task Orders against existing Contracts, particularly where the Task Orders are a component of a larger transformation strategy to transition from a staff augmentation model to a true, performance-based service delivery model.