The Insider

Panel: Government needs better understanding of commercial buying

December 15, 2015 |
Marjorie Censer
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The government still needs to improve its ability to buy commercial items, according to several contracting specialists.

At a Dec. 15 National Contract Management Association event in Washington, Darryl Scott, vice president of contracts at Boeing, said many contracting officers are "uncertain" about how to procure these types of products.

"The single biggest challenge to buying commercial is the government does not have the skill set to buy commercial," said Scott, a retired major general who spent 34 years in the Air Force. Contracting officers "try to make commercial look more like government," he added.

Maj. Gen. Casey Blake, the Air Force's deputy assistant secretary for contracting, acknowledged Scott's criticism.

"We've got some risk averse folks out there who don't really understand the commercial side," he said. "But I think we're making some progress,"

In particular, Blake pointed to efforts with the Defense Contract Management Agency to set up a commercial pricing cell.