Highlights of a GAO Forum: Federal Acquisition Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century

GAO-07-45SP Published: Oct 06, 2006. Publicly Released: Oct 06, 2006.
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Acquisition of products and services from contractors consumes about a quarter of discretionary spending governmentwide and is a key function in many federal agencies. In fiscal year 2005 alone, federal government contracting involved over $388 billion. The work of the government is increasingly being performed by contractors, including in emergency and large-scale logistics operations such as hurricane response and recovery and the war in Iraq. Many agencies rely extensively on contractors to carry out their basic missions. The magnitude of the government's spending and dependence on contractors make it imperative that this function be performed as efficiently and effectively as possible. Yet, acquisition issues are heavily represented on GAO's list of government high-risk areas. In the 21st century, the government needs to reexamine and evaluate its strategic and tactical approaches to acquisition. To identify and discuss the key issues confronting the federal acquisition community, the Comptroller General hosted a forum in July 2006 that brought together acquisition experts from inside and outside the government. Participants shared their insights on challenges and opportunities for improving federal acquisition in an environment of increasing reliance on contractors and severe fiscal constraint.

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