The next big thing in government IT procurement

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By Steve Kelman

At the beginning of the summer, I published a blog on how the Department of Homeland Security had tried an innovative approach to its FLASH competition for an agile contracting BPA, run into problems evaluating bidders, and finally withdrew the procurement — with DHS Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa taking responsibility for the mistakes while defending the idea of trying new ways of doing things. The original blog focused on Correa’s work to overcome the culture of fear in government. But it also mentioned the nature of DHS’s innovative approach, where source selection “centered not around a traditional written proposal but instead around companies actually performing a real agile task that was video-recorded and examined as a central part of proposal evaluation.”

After many of the winning vendors wrote a letter to DHS praising the innovative procurement method, I wrote two more updates showcasing the small non-traditional IT contractors who were bidding for FLASH. While working on these blogs, for the first time I came across the phrase “tech demo” to describe DHS’ source selection approach. When all the non-traditional vendors I spoke with for the blogs stated they preferred source selections involving tech demos to those with traditional proposals, I decided I needed to learn more. This blog is the result of my investigations.

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