Case Study

Evaluation of Acquisition Planning at the U.S. Small Business Administration

Challenge: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) needed program evaluation support to understand barriers that were impeding acquisition planning and recommend improvements to their process.

Federal acquisition guidelines and the Small Business Act (amended) require the SBA to conduct acquisition planning. Acquisition streamlining efforts at the SBA are ongoing. The SBA engaged the Summit Team (composed of Summit Consulting, LLC and Industrial Economics, Inc.) to conduct an independent evaluation of the SBA acquisition planning process to identify necessary changes and practical solutions to ensure an effective, efficient, and compliant process.

Solution: The Summit Team conducted a process evaluation of the current SBA acquisition planning process. We drew best practices from the evaluation activities and offered eight recommendations to the SBA.

There were three core objectives for this evaluation:

  • Objective 1: Identify factors that impede the SBA’s ability to improve its acquisition planning process.
  • Objective 2: Assess program manager satisfaction with the acquisition planning process.
  • Objective 3: Identify how the SBA can improve its acquisition planning process.

The key data sources for conducting this mixed-methods evaluation included a literature review, program documentation and acquisition data, interviews with program managers and staff in program offices and the Acquisition Division, focus groups with stakeholders who participate in acquisition planning, value-stream mapping, and a customer satisfaction survey of program managers who perform acquisition planning.

We developed value-stream mapping from conversations with the four offices most involved in IT-related acquisitions: the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the Office of Capital Access, the Office of Disaster Assistance, and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

Result: With the Summit Team’s support, the SBA was empowered to improve its acquisitions process thanks to evidence-based data and tailored program recommendations. The SBA’s acquisition team is newly aligned with its future-state objectives and regulatory requirements.

A final report, titled Evaluation of SBA Acquisition Planning, can be viewed on the SBA’s website.