PSC: Draft Defense Acquisition Reform Bill Holds Promise
The Professional Services Council weighed in on H.R. 1597, the “Agile Acquisition to Retain Technological Edge Act,” commending the overall intent of the draft legislation while highlighting specific areas of concern. The bill was introduced as a discussion draft by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry on March 25.
In an April 17 letter to Chairman Thornberry and Ranking Member Adam Smith, PSC President & CEO Stan Soloway said that “PSC shares [the Chairman’s] conviction that we have a unique and important opportunity to make wide-ranging and needed reforms to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) acquisition ecosystem and we deeply appreciate…such an open, transparent, and collaborative approach to tackling the difficult challenge of acquisition reform.” In this spirit of collaboration, PSC offered several recommendations to improve the draft legislation.
Among the areas of PSC’s greatest concern is a proposal to create a central office within DoD to make all commercial item determinations, which Soloway asserted “would likely result in actions contrary to Congress’ desire to foster greater reliance on commercial items and, at the same time, reduce competition.” PSC recommended that this language be removed or, at a minimum, focused on arbitrating disputes about commercial items, and that such an office be entirely separate from the department’s existing cost and pricing activities.
PSC also pushed back on report language accompanying the discussion draft concerning service contract inventories based on contractor full-time equivalent (FTE) head counts. “While better information on services contracting is needed, we recommend that the committee revisit the utility of the current statutorily-mandated services contracts inventory requirement and engage with the department and industry about whether other departmental data reporting and analysis could serve as a better mechanism for providing greater transparency into the department’s annual spending on services,” Soloway said.
“While this draft legislation is an important first step in moving the needle on real and lasting acquisition reform, it is imperative that the discussion continues in order to address the wide range of issues and challenges that remain, particularly around the acquisition of services and the attainment of innovation,” Soloway said.
About PSC: PSC is the voice of the government technology and professional services industry. PSC’s nearly 400 member companies represent small, medium, and large businesses that provide federal agencies with services of all kinds, including information technology, engineering, logistics, facilities management, operations and maintenance, consulting, international development, scientific, social, environmental services, and more. Together, the trade association’s members employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in all 50 states. Follow PSC on Twitter @PSCSpeaks and @StanSoloway.
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