What We Do
The GSA Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO) serves as an agency resource for helping vendors navigate the contracting maze of the federal marketplace. The Office also acts as a voice for industry to ensure their concerns with our programs and processes are directed to and addressed by the appropriate entities within GSA.
As a neutral third party, OPO’s goal is to:
- provide an informal forum for vendors and vendor associations to voice their concerns of inconsistent policies, practices or disparate treatment in GSA’s acquisition processes;
- intercede early in the acquisition process to resolve disputes before they escalate to formal complaints;
- collaborate on formal industry feedback collection processes to identify training needs, to assess marketplace trends and shepherd recommendations to improving GSA acquisition programs and processes;
- share lessons learned, promote best practices, and improve acquisition policies as part of the greater government-wide acquisition policy mission; and
- overall, improve government and industry relationships government-wide by facilitating a more meaningful dialogue between the two and help both better understand what it is like to “walk in the other’s shoes”.
The Office houses both the Procurement Ombudsman and the Task and Delivery Order Ombudsman, which is responsible to review complaints from contractors and ensure they are afforded a fair opportunity to be considered, consistent with the procedures in the underlying contract.
Why We Were Created
The GSA Office of the Procurement Ombudsman was created in 2014, under the Administrator’s general authority and responsibility to oversee the agency’s procurement and acquisition activities, and the authority of the Senior Procurement Executive (SPE). Our mission: advance the priorities of the SPE:
- Buying smarter. Prioritizing efforts that help the agency buy smarter.
Establishing and increasing the agency’s use of government-wide and agency-wide strategic sourcing vehicles that save money and reduce duplication. Additionally, identifying goals for increasing competition and reducing the use of high-risk contracts—and tracking agency progress toward these goals to help the agency get the most value for each taxpayer dollar. Supporting the agency’s CIO in ongoing information technology (IT) portfolio investment reviews.
- Strengthening the acquisition workforce.
Developing a well-trained acquisition workforce that can properly define requirements, build the right supplier relationships, select the best solutions for contract award, and effectively manage these acquisitions, all lead to greater fiscal responsibility for GSA.
- Building the right supplier relationships.
Promoting a high-performing, ethical, and dynamic supplier base that is key to delivering value to taxpayers. Improving the value of contractor past performance assessments and increasing the transparency of contractor business integrity data so that the Federal Government only does business with reputable firms. An addition, the CAO/SPE is primarily responsible for championing efforts that maximize contracting with small businesses and other responsible, high-performing sources.
- Advancing mission performance.
Ensuring that acquisition strategies are aligned with, and driven by, mission program and performance objectives, such as those established in an agency’s strategic plans, or those that support the achievement of agency priority goals.
In addition, the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman is charged specifically with addressing concerns expressed by industry regarding the lack of communication between government and industry, manifesting in:
- Ambiguous requirements,
- Unnecessarily complex solicitations and processes,
- Increased burden on offerors and the cost to the government,
- Lack of competition, and
- Unfavorable outcomes for taxpayers, and significant disadvantages to both sides.
OPO works collaboratively with the GSA Service and Staff Offices to facilitate actions aligned with the Senior Procurement Executive priorities and industry concerns.
The Ombudsman has a range of options that assist with resolving an issue such as:
- Discussion with internal stakeholders
- Facilitation of meetings between stakeholders
- Shuttle diplomacy
- Highlighting systemic issues
- Issuing recommendations to address an individual or systemic issue.
Can Anyone Contact the Office of the Ombudsman?
Yes. The Ombudsman will address inquiries, issues, and recommendations (from both the acquisition workforce and industry), along with identifying inconsistent or harmful practices, and recommend solutions to stakeholders, where appropriate.
The Ombudsman will also provide recommendations for standardization, centralization and automation to improve efficiency. The Ombudsman does not manage acquisition programs but will promote improvement initiatives, where appropriate.
When Should I Contact the Office of the Ombudsman?
You should contact the Ombudsman if you have a procurement issue that you have tried to resolve without success. The Ombudsman will intervene in specific acquisition situations to de-escalate and facilitate resolution of complaints.
The Ombudsman works directly with acquisition practitioners, the Office of General Counsel and vendors to gather evidence to recommend impartial solutions to issues that arise. It is expected that vendors and all GSA acquisition practitioners will provide full and immediate disclosure of relevant data and information, without delay so that the Ombudsman can act quickly and efficiently to resolve complaints.
Are There Limitations to What the Ombudsman Can Do?
The Ombudsman will not:
- Address matters already in litigation or under formal protest;
- Delay any statutory, regulatory, or other GSA deadlines;
- Make decisions, legal or otherwise, for GSA;
- Serve as a formal office of legal notice for GSA; or
- Address internal human resource matters.
The shortcut to this page is www.gsa.gov/ombudsman.