COVID-19 has changed the world in many ways, not excluding the United States’ federal procurement strategies. During the pandemic, the US federal government spent nearly $17 billion on COVID-related contracts. Due to the overwhelming nature of this beast, a new assisted acquisition organization has been born from the Joint Acquisition Task Force the Pentagon set up. This task force was responsible for acquiring $3 billion in contracts and agreements for other agencies, namely HHS and FEMA.
Starting in 2021, the Joint Acquisition Task Force (JATF) will become the Defense Assisted Acquisition Cell (DA2C) and will be part of the existing Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell (JRAC). Besides the $3 billion in contracts the JATF helped process for end items like personal protective equipment, it also helped HHS use the new Defense Production Act authorities that department gained under the CARES Act to help build domestic production capacity for critical medical items.
DA2C will serve an entity responsible for building and maintaining interagency relationships and fostering swift assisted acquisitions support services. Stacy Cummings, the assistant secretary of Defense for acquisition enablers, states, “With our hundreds of thousands of acquisition professionals, we’re in a position to respond quickly and robustly. But we do need to have that framework and frankly, that trust, to quickly establish the ability to take the authorization and appropriation another executive branch department receives from Congress and take advantage of the depth and breadth of capability DoD can bring to a crisis. So the lesson learned was that we need to always be thinking about how we support the interagency process and be that one stop shop.”
Author: Paul McVeigh