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Work on an Acquisition Engagement

So you’ve been staffed to a procurement project. Here are some common questions that may come up.

What does “working toward a procurement” mean?

You may have seen language about “working toward a procurement” in one of our partner agreements. In practice, these projects look very similar to any other 18F project, especially at the beginning. They typically start with a discovery period called a Path Analysis where we work with the partner to define the problem space and assess their digital readiness.

The Path Analysis deliverable is usually a roadmap with recommended next steps. For projects working towards a procurement, the next steps might include:

The user research and prototyping work serve several specific purposes in a procurement project. First, information gleaned from this work can be used to inform a potential procurement or other next step. Additionally, technical barriers can be identified and potentially removed during this phase, setting up contractors to be successful faster. And lastly, this work allows 18F to model good practices for the partner. For example, the 18F team might demonstrate good scrum hygiene, working “in the open,” and the value of cross-functional teams, all of which can help foster better government/industry partnerships.

All of the above is called “pre-award” work in the context of a procurement. If the partner decides to pursue a procurement, 18F project teams can be involved in additional procurement-focused Experiment & Iterate phases. For example, 18F teams can:

How does this help our partners?

The goal of 18F’s work is to help government agencies provide better digital services to the people they serve. In order for our work to outlast our engagements, we focus not only on creating digital solutions, but also on building our partners’ capabilities in the practices we believe lead to better outcomes—practices like iterative human-centered design and collaborative and open workstyles.

However, no matter how well-versed our partners become in these practices, the reality is that most government agencies do not have the in-house resources to maintain and grow the work we’ve done with them. Instead, they may rely on contractors to do this. This is why, in addition to building capacity in digital service delivery practices, we also develop our partners’ capacity to be better buyers and managers of custom software development teams.

Acquisition glossary

Where can I learn more?