Defense procurement regs meet Atkins

Totaling more than 1,400 pages, the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement is an ominous document at best. But Defense Department officials are hoping to change that.

One year after Michael Wynne, DOD's acting undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, ordered the transformation of DFARS, the first 14 new rules have been released for public comment.

Last February, Wynne established a task force to determine which of the myriad regulations, policies and procedures — commonly called DFARS — could be eliminated to expedite the acquisition process. Wynne's memo, dated Feb. 18, 2003, calls for DOD to "reduce the regulatory burden by 40 [percent] to 60 percent and cut the regulation process in half."

"This will enable DOD to rapidly convey internal administrative and procedural information to the

acquisition workforce," said Ron Poussard, deputy director the Defense Acquisition Regulation System

directorate.

Poussard said the purpose of the transformation review process was to determine which aspects of the supplement are procedural and which are regulatory.

DFARS is the DOD-specific guidelines that dictate how officials make product and service acquisitions. Although the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) still has ultimate oversight of all federal purchases, DFARS was established to address issues that seldom arise outside military procurement.

Much of the streamlining involves cutting sections of the existing supplement

to make it less of a checklist and more of

a guide, which gives acquisition executives more flexibility when making decisions, he said. Word count is not the only metric by which the progress is being judged, but it does play a large role.

Officials from the office of Defense Procurement Policy had wanted to start publishing the proposed ruled changes by October or November of last year, but they missed that deadline.

The plan is to have all 83 proposed ruled changes posted by the beginning of summer, and to have industry and public responses returned and analyzed, and to implement the finalized rule changes by the end of the calendar year.

In a letter to the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council, Information Technology Association of America officials expressed concern that some of the proposed regulation changes could prevent DOD from using such procurement avenues as the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Schedule.

Robert Burton, associate administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the direction DFARS is taking is more of a housekeeping matter than an overall transformation.

"We have no plans to do anything similar at the moment," Burton said. "The fact is that industry likes things to be in regulations because [industry] feels the government is more likely to follow them."

Burton said the FAR hasn't had any massive criticism to lead to its streamlining, and he doesn't think it would be wise to "throw half of it out."

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