Acquisition Reform: Signal Magazine Article

By | November 1, 2013

Man looking at laptopJohn Gilligan in AFCEA Signal Magazine – Excerpts

John Gilligan, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Schafer Corporation, says that if government would come to industry and clearly describe the problem to be solved rather than a solution, “It is amazing what industry could provide.”

Gilligan previously served in the U.S. Air Force as a civilian employee, including as one of the service’s program executive officers (PEO).

He believes that government underestimates the ability of companies to develop solutions that are “good enough” to meet mission needs at a very affordable cost.

The government generally does a lousy job of defining what is technically acceptable

If the public sector stated requirements and that it wants and would accept a “best fit” solution along with a warranty, Gilligan estimates that up to a 50 percent life cycle cost savings could be achieved as well as a significant decrease in the length of the procurement cycle. “When you add these savings up across a number of systems and projects, that’s a huge savings,” he explains.

Acquisition Reform

Having now served in both sectors, Gilligan says he realizes most people on the public side do not understand the value of time.  “Simply put, shorter acquisition cycle time means less cost. They also don’t really understand what profit is why it is a good thing for government as well as industry,” he states.

Gilligan says little or poor communication is the biggest cause of companies protesting contracts. He spent time in industry before working for the government, which he says was enormously beneficial.

When he served as PEO, he conducted a lot of outreach and solicited ideas to promote constant interaction. He suggests government collect information from industry that will help it put together good bids so industry can help save money and provide the best solutions. Year-long personnel exchanges in which government officials sit at a company and vice versa would help improve acquisitions all around, he adds.

“The government generally does a lousy job of defining what is technically acceptable,” Gilligan explains, and that leads to problems, especially with the recent preference for Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) acquisitions.