Senate panel would limit DHS contracting, freeze some employment

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee amended a reauthorization bill for the Homeland Security Department on Sept. 21 to restrict the department's ability to use cost-reimbursement contracts, FedBiz Daily reported. The measure would also freeze the number of non-emergency DHS employees under limited circumstances.

The measure, which the committee approved and sent to the full Senate, would prohibit using such contracts for the production of major systems and would require written approval from DHS’ undersecretary of management and the department's acquisition review board for permission to use them for major systems development, the article states.

For other types of procurements, the measure would ban cost-reimbursement contracts unless a contracting officer gets approval from the head of contracting and determines that a reimbursable contract is the best way to manage risk. Also, contracting officers would be required to reduce such risks so that follow-on contracts could be awarded on a fixed-price basis, and DHS would have to notify the Senate three days in advance of plans to award a cost-reimbursable contract worth more than $10 million.

In addition, the measure would freeze the number of DHS non-emergency employees until the country's unemployment rate drops to 8 percent, Federal News Radio reported.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the committee’s chairman, said he might propose freezing the number of DHS contract employees when the measure goes before the full Senate.

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