Madsen: Acquisition debate is welcome, but let’s stick to the facts

The Acquisition Advisory Panel welcomes debate and expects that reasonable people will disagree on its recommendations, but that debate should be based on the facts.

The Acquisition Advisory Panel welcomes debate and expects that reasonable people will disagree on its recommendations. But a debate based on the facts will best serve the taxpayers and government contractors.Once again, a representative of the Information Technology Association of America has mischaracterized the panel’s recommendations, this time at a National Contract Management Association (NCMA) conference in early December. An ITAA official claimed that one of the panel’s recommendations would have the effect of eliminating the use of time-and-materials contracts. This would be alarming indeed -- if it were accurate.This is not the first time such a claim has been made. In a in Federal Computer Week, another ITAA official asserted that the panel was recommending that all existing time-and-materials contracts be converted. The in FCW, should have put that claim to rest.We encourage anyone interested in what the panel actually recommends to read those recommendations firsthand at our Web site, which can be found at . The preliminary recommendations of the various working groups can be read in their entirety.So what has the panel said about time-and-materials contracts?The panel, equally balanced between industry and government with one member of academia, voted unanimously for adoption of this recommendation.What the panel did not embrace was the recommendation ITAA submitted that would repeal Section 1432 of the Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA), which requires competition when using time-and-materials contracts for commercial services.Also at the NCMA conference, the ITAA said that the panel’s recommendation to restore the statutory definition of commercial service would prevent purchasing anything that did not exactly match what was provided in the commercial market.Clearly, this would be a recommendation that none of the panel members would have supported.In fact, by restoring the statutory definition of commercial service the panel believes services that at their core are commercially offered and sold will continue to enjoy the benefits of a less onerous government pricing regime -- one derived from the confidence that prices and terms are established in an efficient and competitive marketplace. Those services that do not derive their pricing and terms in the commercial marketplace may be purchased, but under Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 15, allowing the government the tools to establish fair and reasonable prices to meet the American taxpayers’ expectation.The panel’s charter instructed it to improve the government’s commercial buying practices. Commercial buyers repeatedly told the panel that they rely heavily on competition to establish fair and reasonable prices. But the panel found that the government spent nearly one-third of taxpayers’ procurement money in 2004 on noncompetitive procurements. The government should be encouraged to compete more not less. And when competition is not feasible, the government owes it to taxpayers to use available tools to establish a fair and reasonable price.Vigorous discourse on these issues is healthy. But let’s not waste time debating about recommendations that don’t exist.

Acquisition Advisory Panel





September comment piecepanel’s response, also published Oct. 2

acquisition.gov/comp/aap/index.html



  1. Current policies limiting the use of time-and-materials contracts and providing for the competitive award of such contracts should be enforced.
  2. Whenever practicable, procedures should be established to convert work being done on a time-and-materials basis to a performance-based effort.
  3. The government should not award a time-and-materials contract unless the overall scope of the effort, including the objectives, has been sufficiently described to allow efficient use of the time-and-materials resources and to provide for effective government oversight of the effort.















Madsen, a partner at Mayer Brown Rowe and Maw, is chairwoman of the Acquisition Advisory Panel.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.