CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS?! WE HAVE GOT TO DO BETTER!
"Carol Harris of the GAO found that in surveys from 2021 and 2022 that only 6% of VA users of the Oracle-Cerner EHR agreed the system enabled quality care. About 4% of respondents agreed that the new system made them as efficient as possible. 'These scores are among the lowest we have ever seen on a major federal IT acquisition.' Harris said."
The responsibility for these types of procurement and delivery failures lies with both government and contractor. The Government must procure solutions in a way that focuses on results rather then lowest price. I know industry tries to engage with the procuring entity to address poorly written requirements - sometimes through Requests for Comment, sometimes informally. But when the government doesn't make the needed changes to the scope and terms and conditions, it becomes a decision of risk for industry. In these cases, the government will not necessarily receive the best solution in the proposal submission. Often, it turns into a low-ball, price shoot out that drives down the probability of success.
Personal Anecdote: I was a subcontractor Program Analyst/Contracts Manager for seven years on a FedCiv contract providing Storage-as-a-Service. The prime was the only company that submitted a proposal because the requirements were so poorly written and the risk so high. For years, we had to work closely with the contracting shop of the agency to correct the contract requirements. The contract had 41+ modifications! The prime was an exceptional company that was willing to operate at a loss for a couple of years in a commitment to make the program successful - it was not pretty. Eventually it became a profitable contract that was very successful for the customer. However, it shouldn't have had to go that way.
Something is broken in the requirements development phase in some of these large procurements. What do you think it is?
-- The frequent disconnect between the program needs and what the contracting department actually puts in the solicitation?
-- A bureaucracy that collapses under its own weight when trying to procure something correctly?
-- A win-at-any-cost attitude on the part of industry that supersedes the knowledge that low-balling will result in less than optimal results?