Legislation Would Bring Commercial Practices to Government Procurement

Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va. next week will introduce legislation to give government agencies greater access to the commercial marketplace and encourage the use of commercial best practices in procurement, according to David Marin, Davis' legislative director.

The draft legislation, called the Services Acquisition Reform Act, addresses work force training, business environment reform, contract management and the use of performance-based contracting and share-in-savings contracting.

"The government is not utilizing commercial best practices or fully realizing the importance of performance metrics in acquisition cycles," Davis said at a Nov. 1 hearing of the Government Reform subcommittee on technology and procurement policy to discuss the legislation.

"The proposed legislation before the subcommittee is necessary to further streamline procurement and achieve greater utilization of commercial best practices," said Davis, who chairs the subcommittee.

The federal government purchases $87 billion in services a year, according to the subcommittee. While reforms enacted in the 1990s streamlined and shortened the procurement process, saved money and improved access to technological advancements, improvements are still necessary, Davis said.

The legislation would:

* establish an acquisition work force training fund with 5 percent of the fees collected by the GSA schedules program and other governmentwide acquisition contracts. The fund would be used to establish a center for excellence for training to ensure that the entire acquisition workforce receives consistent training.

* create a chief acquisition officer position within every federal agency and commission a short study to encourage governmentwide purchasing and identify barriers to its practice.

* encourage the use of award-term contracts, multiple-year contracting and past performance as a standard for contract awards, so that best value, rather than lowest price, drives the procurement award process.

* include an information technology exemption from the Trade Agreements Act and the Buy America Act, and cooperative purchasing off the GSA schedules for state and local governments for IT products and services only.

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