With new mandatory disclosure provisions, reporting requirements on stimulus funding, and a changing landscape with organizational conflict of interest (OCI) mitigations, today’s contracts and procurements environment just got a little tougher. It’s a challenge Mark Connel is meeting head-on in his role as vice president and executive director of contracts and procurement for SRA International. Recently, Connel shared four ways he helps ensure the Fairfax, Va.-based provider of expert knowledge, technical tools and solutions stays up-to-date and compliant so it can focus on its overarching mission: delivering competitively-priced services and solutions for its federal and commercial clients in areas such as cyber security, managed services, healthcare IT, logistics and enterprise resource planning.
1.) Tap into your network. It’s more important than ever to develop and maintain a solid, trusted network of contracting and procurement colleagues, according to Connel. “It’s not just about having a network of colleagues. You really need to stay in touch with them,” he says, adding that he regularly meets with government and industry counterparts to do just that. “Tap into your network when you’re met with a challenge, share your ideas with colleagues, and try to understand their experiences, including how they’re complying with the new rules and regulations.”
2.) Look inside your organization. “Team up with your legal and compliance colleagues,” says Connel. “It takes a team to navigate the new compliance and reporting standards.” Ensuring efficient flow of communication means being connected by more than just a weekly meeting, he says. In Connel’s case, that communication happens almost daily, based on the needs of the business. “We stay connected on issues and concerns, and we’re constantly sharing ideas targeted toward solutions to the challenges we face.”
3.) Help small business subcontractors understand new requirements. It can be challenging to fully understand new provisions or changes in regulations. SRA, which recently was recognized by the U.S. Dept. of State’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization for exceeding its small business subcontracting goals in 2008, is strengthening the flow of communication across these relationships under Connel’s watch. “It’s important to help our small business subcontractor teammates understand what it takes to be compliant with current contract regulations, such as the new mandatory disclosure rule,” he says.
4.) Provide better contract data visibility and information. This step isn’t reserved for the contracts and procurement staff, but also applies to other support organizations and program management stakeholders as well, says Connel. SRA currently is putting in place a new contract management system that connects live financial data and our opportunity database with contract information. “We’ve designed the system to deliver direct access to those who need it, instead of having to go through their contract administrator or subcontract representative,” says Connel. “In total,” says Connel, “the changes we’re seeing in government procurement, along with the new procurement requirements make contracts and procurement both a challenging and exciting place to be right now.”