House panel proposes more defense contracting reforms
The IMPROVE Acquisition Act would improve competition, financial management and workforce issues
- By Matthew Weigelt
- Apr 13, 2010
House Armed Services Committee leaders plan to introduce legislation
April 14 that would push for more reforms of the Defense Department's
acquisition system, including workforce management, competition and
financial management deficiencies.
Named the Improve Acquisition Act, the proposal seeks to fix the
remaining 80 percent of the procurement system left untouched by major
reforms in 2009, the committee said.
The bill aims to overhaul the acquisition system, getting equipment
to the warfighter in combat faster and saving an estimated $135 billion
over the next five years, the committee said.
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The committee said the legislation would require DOD
to comprehensively manage its acquisition system and its acquisition
workforce. It would reform financial management through incentives. The
bill would enhance competition for contracts by “responsibly” expanding
DOD’s industrial base to gain access to more cutting-edge technology.
The proposals are based on the committee’s Defense Acquisition Reform Panel, the committee said. The panel offered recommendations to the committee last month on how Congress could fix problems in the defense acquisition system.
After nearly a year of hearings, the panel concluded DOD’s
antiquated acquisition system and policies present major problems in
fulfilling today’s mission needs. The out-of-date system contributes to
program costs ballooning beyond expectations, according to its report
In its report, the panel said DOD should get more from the
industrial base by improving contracting and competitive practices and
should push for better innovation and make use of small and mid-tier
businesses. Panel members want DOD to repeal a rule that allows
agencies to withhold 3 percent of contract payments in anticipation of
taxes owed to the Treasury Department. The panel called the rule a "new
obstacle" to getting into the commercial marketplace. Some companies
without tax problems won't offer bids because of such rules, it said.
The panel recommended DOD expand its Office of Performance
Management and Root Cause Analysis, which would track acquisition
workforce performance based on predetermined benchmarks and “would
promote real consequences.”
The report has proposals for new regulations for fair and
transparent acquisition workforce hiring, assignments and performance
appraisal. Specifically, the panel said DOD should extend the
Acquisition Workforce Demonstration Program, which aims to improve
personnel management and policies. The program is set to expire in 2012.
“There is no doubt that the department needs an acquisition
workforce that is as capable as its advanced weapons systems,” Rep. Rob
Andrews (D-N.J.), who was the panel’s chairman, said in February.
Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.