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Acquisition Reform Bill Clears House Armed Services Committee

The House Armed Services Committee approved yesterday by 56-0 H.R. 5013, a bill intended to save taxpayers billions through reforms to the federal acquisition process by requiring DoD to establish better accountability systems “to ensure we get the best value for the money we spend,” according to Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), chairman of the panel that developed the reform bill.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), said in a press release that the reform bill also would force DoD “to develop meaningful consequences for success or failure in financial management” and would strengthen the defense industrial base through increased competition.  He added, “Our troops rely on the acquisition system to buy the equipment they need to keep them safe on the battlefield and protect our country. When that system breaks down, they suffer.”

The bill also provides concrete improvements to the federal civilian acquisition workforce, providing under Title II, including measures to create “attractive career paths,” provide for “continuing higher education” and even establishing “due process for members of the acquisition workforce who consistently fail to meet performance standards” in  subsection (b).

Title II of the bill includes incentives for DoD achieving auditability by September 2017, mandating “preferential treatment as appropriate,” and penalties for Defense agencies that fail to meet that deadline, leaving the specifics up to the Secretary of Defense.

Also, the bill provides measures to expand the Defense Industrial Base under Title IV, mandating that the Secretary of Defense “establish a program to expand the industrial base of the Department of Defense to increase the Department’s access to innovation and the benefits of competition.”  Interestingly, the bill places an emphasis on using “nontraditional suppliers,” defined in paragraph 1 of subsection (d) as “firms that have received contracts from the Department of Defense with a total value of not more than $100,000 in the previous 5 years.”

Additionally, Title IV amends the U.S. Code to require contractors submitting bids to the DoD to “certify that the person does not have a seriously delinquent tax debt; and authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to disclose to the head of the agency information strictly limited to verifying whether the person has a seriously delinquent tax debt,” meaning that contractors with “seriously delinquent” tax debt (defined in subsection (d) paragraph 4-A as debt that exceeds $3,000) will be totally shut out of the bidding process.

The bill represents some serious reforms that appear to have broad, bipartisan support (as the bill passed committee unanimously) and stand a good chance of passing both the full House and Senate.

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