Department of Health and Human Services

DEMYSTIFY & STREAMLINE THE PROCUREMENT PROCESS

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A major bottleneck we have had at NIH for YEARS is the lack of communication between contract officers & scientists regarding the preparation of proper requisitions for purchases over the micro purchase threshold. Procurement is the fuel needed to maintain laboratory production & move scientific research forward daily. The ordering process for competitive & sole source purchases involves scientists, purchase agents, & contract officers. A “request” is generated by a scientist, which is then forwarded to a purchase agent, and for macro purchases, to a contract officer. The dilemma we face as scientists is that we do not receive adequate training to write satisfactory justifications for competitive & sole source purchases such as JOFOCs & SOWs. We have tried working directly with contract officers but to no avail because they have traditionally not been forthcoming with instructions we need to generate the proper documentation. As a result, it takes many months to process a macro purchase due to the “back & forth” caused by miscommunication. It has become a game in which we must guess the correct “buzz words” necessary for a contract officer to finally process our request. Meanwhile, our quotes have expired while prices increased, service agreements lapsed when repairs were necessary, & thousands of dollars lost in productivity at bench. To solve this problem, we must integrate a council of scientists, purchase agents & contract officers to initiate an open dialog. I propose we begin with a series of panel discussions & presentations from both sides. The goal of this forum is to create a comprehensive learning program, regularly updated by contract officers, that will be developed into a yearly online training requirement for scientists. My solution to demystifying & facilitating the arduous process of macro procurement is affordable & feasible, & will boost efficiency by refocusing hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for cancer & other disease research.

I agree to have my idea, not my name or information, posted online. YES

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Idea No. 3010