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This paper, presented at the West Government Contracts Year in Review Conference (covering 2010), attempts to identify the key trends and issues for 2011 in U.S. federal procurement. The paper, among other things, focuses on the intense activity that emanated from the Defense Department, primarily through USD(AT&L) Ashton Carter’s Efficiency and Productivity Initiative; summarizes empirical evidence that the federal procurement spending growth cycle finally has run its course; offers a window into the concentration of spending amongst the largest contracting agencies and government contractors; points out that, despite all of the attention focused upon government contracting, over the last decade grant spending outpaced procurement spending by more than sixteen percent; expresses concern that agencies have their work cut out for them in their continuing efforts to fund additional acquisition billets and investing in training and professional development in an era of pay freezes and pressure to reduce government spending; discusses how the government has grown into its permanent and growing reliance on contracts for a wide range of professional and support services; expresses dismay that, for political purposes, the public is not exposed to an objective, even-handed assessment of the roles contractors play and the extent of their contribution to the government’s myriad missions; and highlights the Professional Services Council Acquisition Policy Survey, The Great Divide, which chronicled the marked difference in perceptions between operational acquisition professionals – the people who actually purchase the goods and services necessary for the government to perform its missions – and those whose role is primarily oversight (e.g., legislative staff, GAO, etc.) of the people and firms that do the work.

GW Paper Series

GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 529, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 529