In 2021, the federal government spent a combined $637 billion on contracts.1 This funding is designed to support mission-critical supplies and services, and, as such, there is a need to take a strategic and innovative approach to acquisitions to validate federal dollars are being spent appropriately and the government is driving efficiencies in resource costs and value gained in the procurement process. Through our knowledge of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and experience supporting federal agency acquisitions, Guidehouse developed a strategic approach to acquisition management that combines leading industry practices with robust change management strategy and creative technology solutions. This paper outlines three key results of our support and highlights the technology used to facilitate these outcomes.
Guidehouse provides end-to-end acquisition life cycle support, leveraging default Office 365 applications to eliminate common procurement bottlenecks at no additional technological cost to the government. External vendor engagement and evaluation documentation are two key areas where these technologies can improve current-state acquisition processes and support competition.
External vendor engagement often causes unnecessary delays in procurement lead time when traditionally vendors are required to submit responses directly to Contracting Officers and Contracting Specialists via e-mail. To alleviate the administrative burden on contracting staff and expedite the procurement process, Guidehouse creates web-enabled workflows with Microsoft Forms and Power Automate to standardize the collection and compilation of vendor responses replacing clunky Excel spreadsheets.
In this example, vendors submit clarification questions (i.e., Vendor Q&A) or responses to a Request for Information (RFI) directly through a user-friendly web form, created in Microsoft Forms. Guidehouse designed a Power Automate Flow that is triggered by each vendor submission to transfer vendor inputs to a pre-formatted workbook on SharePoint, empowering agency personnel with real-time access and automated analysis to make data-driven decisions impacting acquisition strategy.
Evaluation documentation can similarly burden agency staff, especially when acquisitions result in a large volume of vendor responses, as is often the case with high-value contract awards. With the use of tools like Microsoft Forms, Guidehouse can standardize the process of compiling evaluation documentation and pre-populate consensus memorandums, meaning evaluation panel members can focus on having substantive discussions and not be overwhelmed by operational challenges associated with compiling evaluation documentation.
Through our development and application of low-code/no-code technology solutions, Guidehouse re-enforces acquisition practices and provides an easy foundation for leadership to make data-driven decisions on resource allocations.
Another way to improve acquisition management for an organization is through documented institutional knowledge and the standardization of acquisition practices across the organization. Guidehouse supports this through the design and development of acquisitions toolkits that guide end-users through the acquisition life cycle and equip Contracting Officer Representatives (CORs) with relevant tools, templates, and tailored examples at every step along the way. Leveraging our extensive policy and procedural experience across the government, Guidehouse focuses on creating standardized practices that alleviate compliance burdens on stakeholders and create a streamlined onboarding experience and training platform.
To centralize these resources, Guidehouse designs a modern SharePoint site with self-guided instructions and user-friendly web navigation. This serves to replace what would be lengthy text manuals in traditional ordering guides and provides CORs with a one-stop-shop for acquisition guidance.
For example, a toolkit for the award of Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) task orders includes detailed instruction on how to prepare a requirements document, with corresponding templates for a Statement of Work or Performance Work Statement. Innovative methods used to support competition (e.g., Microsoft Forms to facilitate market research and vendor Q&A) are also adapted and refined for enterprisewide implementation; for example, the toolkit will include guidance on conducting market research, how to use Microsoft Forms, and provide web templates that can be tailored to any procurement. These resources are built out for every step of the acquisition process, providing a detailed roadmap for CORs to follow.
Additionally, Guidehouse creates training modules to accompany each acquisition toolkit, reinforcing key messaging and demonstrating toolkit features and functionality. Trainings are developed using Microsoft PowerPoint with the intention of providing materials that can be used for both live training sessions and pre-recorded trainings that can then be accessed through the SharePoint site. All materials are developed with the end-user experience in mind, following Section 508 guidelines and accessibility leading practices.
Guidehouse supports acquisition planning and performance monitoring through support for the development of an acquisition dashboard and the identification of standard contract KPIs. For dashboards, Guidehouse performs in-depth requirements gathering through stakeholder interviews to acquire current-state information and gain a deeper understanding of the acquisition data landscape. These interviews inform recommendations for dashboard development that will provide stakeholders with a centralized view of the agency’s contract inventory. For KPIs, Guidehouse conducts similar stakeholder interview efforts aimed at identifying how quality is measured for both contract deliverables and overall contract performance. Information gathered in KPI interviews informs the development of a centralized KPI library to promote standardization in the way that contract performance is monitored and assessed.
Guidehouse continues to support the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) with the modernization of acquisition program management through the automation of acquisition workflows, improved knowledge-sharing and centralization of resources, and better access to and monitoring of acquisition data. This modernization effort is centered around equipping IES with an acquisition culture that is compliant with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and promotes fair, consistent competition across all centers in the pursuit of best value for the government.
1 Government Accountability Office, “A Snapshot of Government-wide Contracting for RY 2021 (Interactive Dashboard),” August 25, 2022,
Complexity demands a trusted guide with the unique expertise and cross-sector versatility to deliver unwavering success. We work with organizations across regulated commercial and public sectors to catalyze transformation and pioneer new directions for the future.