ASI's Thought Leadership

ASI was founded as the thought leader on acquisition--the intersection of budget, mission performance and procurement. We continue to lead as the source of unparalleled perspective and insight on trends and developments shaping how government acquires the capability to achieve outcomes. Two recent focus areas are acquisition effectiveness and innovation.

For example, we have published industry leading white papers and analyses and we're compiling the news, policies, regulations and legislation on category management and agile acquisition:


Category Management:

Category management is strategic approach and a continuous process that encompass the procurement spending of an entire organization. Its goals are to drive mission value by managing spending and producing savings. It requires the procurement organization to be tightly aligned with the agency's mission objectives. In addition, the whole organization must be engaged with, must participate in and must endorse category management for the approach to succeed.

Under category management, spending is segmented into master categories and subcategories that reflect the market. Applying the approach entails applying a broad range of tools and processes to the full lifecycle of products and services being managed. Among the tools and processes are spend analysis, demand management, strategic sourcing, supplier management, contract consolidation, standardization, requirements consolidation, ecommerce, spending aggregation and mapping suppliers to business needs.


Webinars, Video and Radio






Agile Acquisition

Agile acquisition focuses on flexibility, quality, and ensuring involvement and outcomes for end users. Agile acquisition is based on deep contractor-client collaboration, short sprints of delivery that end with immediately usable products or services. It involves understanding the needs of end users and putting them into small, modular units of requirements.

Detailed specifications and product schema are replaced with user input, acceptance criteria and ultimately user acceptance. The approach has been used primarily to buy software development, but increasingly agile methods are being applied to other product and service purchases.

Because business acceptance of the product or service being delivered is critical to success in agile, subject matter experts and senior program managers alike should expect to work closely with the product owner, users and delivery team on a daily basis.

Performance-based contracting fits the agile acquisition approach. The user stories--which describe desired outcomes in terms of just-in-time requirements--can be best captured in a statement of objectives. Scope generally is not fixed in an agile acquisition, but rather is aligned with what can be accomplished within a fixed time and budget.

In an agile environment, the definition of "done" is a checklist of criteria a product or service must deliver. In the case of software development, the criteria are used evaluate a demonstration of the application. Customer satisfaction is the primary measure of performance and a working deliverable is the documentation.






Analysis and Training


Serving Acquisition Professionals

ASI teamed with Government Executive to publish indispensable resources for acquisition professionals. Like what you see? We offer this content exclusively through the Virtual Acquisition Office™. Contact us today for a free demonstration!

Federal CAO RoadMap

Acquisition Process Checklist: Acquisition Planning for Federal Supply Schedule Orders

Acquisition planning is critical to the success of any acquisition. This checklist details – step-by-step –required and recommended steps when planning an acquisition using Federal Supply Schedule contracts. These checklists are updated frequently, as changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation occur.


Government Executive What do operating plans look like

What do operating plans look like for acquisition organizations?

Under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, agencies are required to engage in long-range strategic planning, performance measurement and reporting tied to government-wide goals and objectives. This Research Response describes how operating plans differ from strategic plans, topics for inclusion, success factors and other resources.


Government Executive: Generate savings and efficiencies through strategic, creative acquisition practices.

Generating Savings and Efficiencies through Strategic, Creative Acquisition Practices

This Advisory provides leading practices and actionable ideas to find or generate savings and efficiencies that won’t compromise results or compliance. Ideas range from highly strategic to notably tactical, and from quick wins to longer-term investments, and are presented for agencies to consider as they plan the way ahead.




 Pulling the Lever

Pioneering Contract Management Thought Leadership


After the award: How to make contracts deliver

FCW, February 14, 2017

"Our first roundtable focused on CORs and their role serving as the eyes and ears for program customers and contracting officers on post-award contract performance. This second gathering focused on the post-award relationship between the government and contractors.

If, as a participant observed, 'all the value from contracting comes after the contract is awarded,' then the contract performance relationship between the government and its suppliers is paramount.

Like acquisition, contract performance is a team sport, so collaboration, communication and trust characterize the best post-contract relationships, participants agreed."

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Professional Services Council White Paper: Enhanced Market Research Drives Better Acquisitions

February 14, 2017

Robust government market research provides a critical foundation for federal acquisitions. To achieve the desired outcomes of an acquisition, federal agencies must use the market research process to address questions about what they are buying, how they propose to buy it, and—perhaps most importantly—how it will help fulfill their mission. The Outcomes-Oriented Acquisition Working Group, within PSC’s Acquisition and Business Policy Council (ABPC), has developed a white paper outlining key steps for agencies to take for conducting enhanced market research to attain better acquisition outcomes.

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Breaking the 'institutional density' of industry, government communications

December 5, 2016 Federal News Radio

Two mythbusters memos from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy; the reestablishment of the Frontline Forum for contracting officers; a host of Web and in-person educational sessions over the last five years, and still the idea that government and industry can communicate about contracts is hard for many acquisition workers to grasp.

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Performance-Based Acquisition Toolkit

Outcomes Matter More Than Ever in Services Contracting

By Timothy W. Cooke

Tim CookeThe second habit of Steven Covey's influential and long-lived book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is "begin with the end in mind." This is the fundamental tenet of outcome-oriented acquisition and its associated methodology, "The Seven Steps to Performance-Based Acquisition."

Performance-based acquisition is central to defense and civilian agency initiatives to improve the outcomes of the 63 percent of federal procurement spending that goes to acquire services, some $283 billion of the $447 billion in procurement in fiscal 2014.

For example, the Seven Steps are the foundation of the new Defense Department instruction for services contracting, which accounted for 53 percent of fiscal 2015 defense procurement. Similarly, the new governmentwide category management effort is building performance-based acquisition into the operating instructions for the Professional Services category.

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VAO Webinar: What Does the Resurgence of Shared Services Mean for Procurement?

This October 13, 2016, VAO Insiders Series Webinar provides an inside look at the prospects for procurement to becoming a shared service, procurement's role in migrating functions of shared services providers, the link between category management and shared services and more. Special guests include Elizabeth Angerman, Executive Director of the Office of Unified Shared Services (USSM) at the General Services Administration and Stephanie Hrin, Acquisition Vision Lead for USSM.


Postaward Contract Administration and Management Toolkit

Steve Kelman, professor of public management at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), recently kicked off a discussion on ways to improve contract management in federal acquisition through his Federal Computer Week blog, "The Lectern." Kelman encouraged the government program and contracting communities, contractors, independent experts such at the Procurement Roundtable, organizations providing advice to the government on good contracting, and OFPP to join in the dialog. "There is a lot of money at stake in managing contracts well, or poorly. We cannot afford to do nothing," he noted.

For the past 20 years, ASI Government has provided the federal acquisition community guidance, tools, and insights on contract administration and results-oriented performance management. We recently reinvigorated our focus on contract management with our Virtual Acquisition Office (VAO) "Back to Basics" webinar series and publications devoted specifically to the latest best practices in the area. In an effort to support the discussion on improving contract management, we've made these resources available to the greater community.

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Archived Articles

Pioneering Contract Management Thought Leadership

Breaking the 'institutional density' of industry, government communications

Performance-Based Acquisition Toolkit: Outcomes Matter More Than Ever in Services Contracting

VAO Webinar: A Look Inside the Coming Revolution in Software Purchasing

VAO Webinar: Insiders Series Building Army Acquisition Collaboration Virtually, Through Data-sharing and Avatar Training

The Federal Aviation Administration's Acquisition Management System

Postaward Contract Administration and Management Toolkit

Implementing Category Management - A Closer Look at GSA's Professional Services Category

Adjusting Government's Buying Habits

Going Beyond Jack of All Trades

What's Next for the Acquisition Workforce and Evolving OFPP Policies

Lessons from the U.K.: Developing a Category Management Strategy in Government

Merging Common Purchases Makes Dollars and Sense

Teaching Digital Buyers to Transform Acquisition

ASI Analysis: U.S. category management initiative seeks to persuade

The Seven Deadly Buzzwords

ASI Analysis: Surveys reveal large gap in views of workforce skills

Integrated Talent Management in the Acquisition Workforce: An Inside Look at the Department of Health and Human Services

Taming the Wild West of Cloud Acquisition

Myth No. 3 Envisioning the Future Is a Waste of Time

Cloud Computing (Part 2): Acquiring Cloud-Enabled IT Services

Acquisition Matters: Buying agile without jumping through hoops

3 Myths That Cripple Acquisition - No. 2: Reforming Acquisition Will Fix It

3 Myths That Cripple Acquisition - No. 1: Government can be perfect

Why Cloud Computing Is Like Water

ASI Government OpEd Responding to Washington Technology’s Editor’s Notebook, ‘Should Procurement Be a Game?’ Learning Strategies for Uncertain Times 

A Vision for the Federal CAO

ASI and the Partnership for Public Service collaborated to produce the Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO) Federal Roadmap, a strategic vision that conveys key principles for optimizing the acquisition function and outlines a framework of the CAO’s primary activities. A related Advisory further explores concepts introduced in the CAO Roadmap.

Federal CAO RoadMap

CAO Federal Roadmap

Federal agencies spend more than $500 billion a year acquiring goods and services to support their programs and missions. Approximately one out of every six dollars agencies spend is through acquisition, and in some cases, acquisition can represent up to 80 percent of an agency’s discretionary budget. With numbers this large, it is critical that the acquisition function, processes and workforce be optimized to ensure the government gets the best value for every taxpayer dollar spent.


Key Principles for Optimizing the Acquisition Function

This Advisory provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing federal CAOs, as well as the guiding principles CAOs should follow to leave a legacy of transformational leadership and lasting results.