U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Advanced Manufacturing Office
OIT Times: OIT Streamlining its R&D Proposal Solicitation Process
June 21, 2000
When Denise Swink, DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Industrial Technologies, sat down with OIT customers at February Customer Day and asked ow can we serve you better?t wasn a rhetorical question. Within days, Swink was in Idaho to confer with managers at the DOE Idaho Operations Office about taking aggressive action to address the number one complaint of OIT customers.
ur customers told us very clearly: ll the forms we need to fill out and information we need to provide make it hard for us to work with you, said Swink. o me, that means that our best technical partners might not be working on as many projects as they could, and some great ones might be discouraged from working with us at all. Who knows what energy-saving technologies might never be developed because of this added bureaucracy? We wanted to make changes immediately./p>
So, by the time the next Industries of the Future R&D proposal solicitationsncluding those directed at the Petroleum and Aluminum industriesere released a few weeks later, many dramatic changes were already evident. For example, rather than demanding a full scale, highly detailed proposal up front, initial submissions require only a 10 page verviewand a one page cost summary sheet, an innovation similar to that pioneered by OIT Forest Products Team. Pre-award audits will now be conducted on an s-neededbasis only, and the solicitation package itself has been simplified and shortened, with clearer language and fewer mandatory forms and certifications.
he bottom line,said Swink, s that successful proposers can get their funds faster and their work underway much sooner. Those whose proposals were not chosen this time around will have invested minimal time in the effort, and so are better positioned to participate again./p>
According to Swink, a key to the fast and dramatic changes in the solicitation process was the cooperation and proactivity of the management team at the Idaho Operations Office, including new Chief of the Contracts and Assistance Branch, Mike Adams.
orking with Denise, we found that there were many ways to simplify the financial assistance process,Adams explained. lthough Federal regulations regarding financial assistance awards are often simpler than those governing contracts, tradition over the years has led to their being managed in similar ways. Once we looked at the process with fresh eyes, we found a lot of opportunities to make the financial assistance process easier on everybody, while still maintaining the necessary controls./p>
According to Adams, the recent solicitations represent only the beginning of the Office simplification and streamlining efforts.
ike OIT, we are in a continuous improvement mode, and will be constantly monitoring the process to see where we can improve it,he said.
The Idaho Operations Office is one of several that assist OIT, and, according to Swink, similar changes are underway at both the Chicago and Golden (CO) offices as well. Indeed, Adams notes that, as part of their continuous improvement efforts, he is now in close contact with colleagues at the other Offices to not only help make their efforts consistent, but also share ways to continually improve the process for all Offices that serve OIT and its customers.
However, notes Adams, OIT and its customers won be the only ones that benefit from a more efficient solicitation process. The improvements will also benefit the numerous other DOE entities served by the operations officess well as their many private sector customers.
IT started the ball rolling, helping us become more customer-focused,said Adams. ur on-going efforts will ensure that we serve all OIT customers and all DOE customers better than ever before./p>