New HHS contracting rules push transparency, green purchasing

The Health and Human Services Department is doing its first major update to its acquisition regulation since 2006, adding new rules for transparency, data standards, contracting staff certifications and green purchasing.

HHS issued a final rule to revise the HHS Acquisition Regulation, which is a supplement to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, according to a Federal Register notice on Nov. 27.

The final rule also reflects new laws and regulations for regulatory flexibility, paperwork reduction, competition and acquisition planning, access controls and information security, and accessibility of electronic and information technology systems, among others.

Comments are due by Dec. 28; if no adverse comments are received, the final rule will go into effect on Jan. 26, 2010, the notice states.

The revised regulation draws a distinction between the duties of the pre-award project officer and the post-award contracting officer’s technical representative. In some cases, one individual fulfills both roles. Previously, the official who represented the requiring office both pre-award and post-award was referred to as the project officer.

The new regulation has initiatives to improve transparency and contracting data quality, consistent with recent laws including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The improved data will be stored in the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation.

HHS agencies are planning several IT acquisitions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing a $2 billion IT contract, while the National Institutes of Health is working on a governmentwide vehicle for small businesses.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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