Wanted: A few good DOD acquisition policies

Defense official asks for industry input on how to improve costly practices

Here's your chance, defense contractors, to give the department a piece of your mind.

Defense Department officials want industry input on rules that provide little value while driving up costs.

In a notice in the Federal Register, DOD officials said they understand that the various reporting requirements and other acquisition practices make industry adopt processes and make investments that increase costs, especially overhead costs. At the same time, some of those requirements add little value to the overall work.

So, DOD wants to know the policies that industry believes fit that description. It will take submissions through March 31.

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The request for industry’s comments is the next stage of DOD’s Better Buying Power Initiative, launched in 2010 by Ashton Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Industry sent defense officials more than 500 suggestions last summer, and Carter incorporated these comments into a Sept. 10 memo. The memo sets out 23 ways the government can improve its performance and incentivize better performance from industry. It is aimed at lowering prices without sacrificing quality.

“It is guidance from me to the acquisition workforce in the Defense Department on how we can get more without more,” Carter said in a Feb. 9 speech at the Cowen Investment Conference in New York, N.Y.

Under the new request for comments, DOD will use the suggestions as part of internal deliberations on the buying initiative, officials said. When contractors submit a suggestion on a costly policy, officials want to know the magnitude of the cost and have the recommendations identify the sources of the costs, backed by credible and convincing data.

“DOD’s goal is to develop a fact-based program to reform cost-inflating practices,” the Federal Register notice states.

With detailed suggestions, officials can evaluate and prioritize them. More specifically, they want to follow up on industry's recommendations from 2010 on the thresholds related to the provisions in the Truth in Negotiations Act. In particular, they want to review audit practices and certain barriers to correctly balancing industry’s abilities as DOD's buying shifts and moves based on demands, the notice states.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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