Contractors Comment on House Pentagon Purchasing Bill

 

The largest contractors trade organization in the country recently commented on a bill in the House of Representatives that would make several changes to the Pentagon’s acquisition process. While the group said it was a step in the right direction, it pointed out a number of items in the bill that it said could lead to undesirable results, and noted that these items should be scrutinized. Learn more in our blog.

 

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Contractors oppose a plan to centralize Pentagon purchasing.

 

Contractors Comment on House Bill to Centralize

 

Professional Services Council is the contractors trade organization, and is comprised of 400 contractors from across the U.S. The group sent a letter to the co-sponsors of the bill, committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and top Democrat Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash, last month.

 

The bill is titled the Agile Acquisition to Retain Technological Edge Act, H.R. 1597. The main goals of the bill are to “streamline the acquisition process, modernize military technology and enhance workforce training.”

 

Professional Services Council took issue with one component of the bill which would “have the Defense secretary designate an individual to make determinations on whether an item sought by a Pentagon unit is commercially available,” according to Government Executive. Essentially, centralizing Pentagon purchasing of commercial items.

 

The contractors noted in their letter that requiring that the many thousands of commercial items determinations that are made every year be conducted from one office, “disconnected from the customer base and the acquisition offices, will almost certainly result in procurement delays.” The contractors further noted that if a central office were to be created, it should be for dispute arbitration re commercial items only, and not purchasing activities.

 

The contractors also stated that removing commercial items determinations from the responsibilities of Defense Department contractors would be contrary to Congress’ goal of enhancing the DoD’s workforce training and development.

 

“The contractors also questioned the Pentagon’s use of full-time equivalent headcounts to transparently measure service contracting, requested that caps on service contracting be lifted, and suggested that requests for proposals focus more on statements of objectives than on statements of work,” said Government Executive.

 

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