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I am curious to learn more about Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in the federal procurement arena. My procurement shop is working on an SLA with a large and well-funded client office. I understand that the planned SLA will generally set forth a timeframe and process for various procurement actions. The existing SLA is quite dated and doesn't quite match the needs of the organization in its current state. Customer service has been the main sticking point between the two organizations for years. The client office has complained for years about slow response times and lack of "buy in" from various 1102s. Has anyone ever worked on or drafted an SLA between a procurement team and a client before? If so, what was your experience? What was the outcome?

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I have had past experience with SLA's.   Based on the experience SLA's felt to me like they were done in vacuum.   Might sound corny but borrowing from recent discussions regarding other topics found here in Forum I would suggest creating a SLA using the USACE Partnering process.    In my experience SLA's found themselves in some desk drawer some place.  Maybe, just maybe, using a process like USACE Partnering would be the catalyst to creating a SLA that actually supports a great working relationship between two organizations. 

 

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A suggestion is to establish ALTs (Acquisition Lead Times) for your various types of actions.  Your SLA will be a % of the established ALTs that were met.  You do not want your program office to dictate how long it should take to complete an acquisition. 

Example:  An ALT for a Unilateral Modification is 30 days.  The SLA would be meeting the ALT 90% of the time.  Also, ALTs also includes the times for program to perform their responsibilities of the acquisition process; there should be the ability to document excess time taken by program (or other situations outside of the COs control) so as not jeopardize the contracting office from missing the ALT and negatively impacting the SLA.  

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SLAs aren’t really used that much now.  They were more popular in past years.   Carl pointed out one big reason is that they weren’t managed or even looked at much once in place.

My suggestion is meet with your client office.  Find out what’s important to them and why.  Then prepare a strategy to better provide support.  Usually program offices say what’s important - procurement times (so they can plan), advice and assistance (help and guidance), and communication (knowing status and receiving answers to questions).

If thats the case, find out what your typical leads times are for various action.  For example, what’s your performance against PALT.  You don’t guarantee anything but let them know expectations.  That allows them to plan and alert you on requirements with priority so you can adjust.  Look around at what other agencies do for providing advice.  Several best practices are providing libraries of documents and instructions on sharepoint.  Developing handbooks are another.  A few have online training.  If you don’t communicate status, consider providing that online for example.  Do you have contact information of individuals program offices can contact for information?

Retreadfed brings up a good question.  What are the elements in your 1102 performance plans and do they align with what clients seek?

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Many good ideas here. We are definitely looking at many different segments, including PALT, 1102 performance plans, and also comparing with other agencies. It is accurate an statement with regard to the document ending up in a drawer somewhere that gets updated every nine years. The big thing here is that the client office pays a hefty fee for procurement-related services and isn't exactly thrilled about our performance in several areas (notably, customer service). The big challenge here is that the program office is seeking input from across the board, so multiple divisions are going to have an opinion. 

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