Davis readies next take on acquisition reform

SARA designed to keep procurement storms from brewing; experts differ on remedies

Government and industry procurement experts have praised legislation designed to advance procurement reforms of the last decade, but they don't agree on what those reforms should be.

A bill drafted by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), called the Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA), proposes several solutions to problems that many believe are unintended results of procurement reform laws passed in the 1990s. Problems include a perceived lack of competition for government contracts, an inappropriately skilled federal acquisition workforce and some rules that are either too confusing or too stringent.

Davis proposes several solutions to address these and other issues, including a central fund for acquisition workforce training, a new position of chief acquisition officer (CAO) in each agency and increased support for innovative procurement practices such as share-in-savings, which allows agencies to pay vendors for the development of information technology systems with savings that the systems may generate.

Federal and industry experts, who testified at the first hearing on the bill this month, said the concerns are valid, but disagreed on how fixes should be made.

The reforms did not create a bad system, just one that needs to be updated after several years of use, said Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, testifying at the hearing. For the past few months, Styles has encouraged agencies to offer changes to address the concerns so that Congress does not create barriers to reform.

A CAO would help bring together each agency's acquisition strategy, said Stephen Perry, administrator of the General Services Administration. "There needs to be someone in that type of position," he said.

In the draft of SARA, the CAO would report directly to the head of the agency in a position similar to that of the chief information officer and chief financial officer.

This is consistent with the approach of many leading private-sector com.panies, according to the General Accounting Office. But a one-size-fits-all approach is not flexible enough to work within all agencies, Styles said.

"The most effective placement of such an official is best left to the discretion of an agency head who is familiar with, and ultimately accountable for, mission performance," she said.

The bill will not be introduced until this week, and Davis "is open to compromise on most facets of the bill," said David Marin, Davis' spokesman. For instance, Davis has decided to look at how to give agency heads more flexibility in the placement of the CAO, while keeping the requirement to create the position, Marin said.

"We recognize the unique acquisition needs of each agency," he said. "We also want agencies to be able to appropriately determine and differentiate the duties a CAO would perform while working in cooperation with the CIO and CFO."

The acquisition workforce also clearly needs better and more appropriate training, government officials agreed. Past and future reforms will not work without a workforce that can oversee acquisition and project management.

Several officials expressed concern that Davis' idea of a central training fund may not work because Davis proposes that it be paid for by fees from governmentwide contracts, and vendors and agencies would not want to pay for something that will not directly affect them.

But the fees will be offset by the overall improvement in the performance of all procurements — something that benefits everyone, said Renny DiPentima, president of SRA International Inc. and a representative of the Information Technology Association of America.

All of the comments from the hearing and other ideas on the issues raised by SARA will be considered as the legislation moves forward, Marin said. The bill that Davis will release this week is not intended to be the final word on the changes that need to be made, he said.

"This is why we're introducing the bill at the end of this session — to invite comment so we can develop a consensus package that we can move early next year," Marin said. nSome concerns Officials at a hearing earlier this month raised several concerns about measures in the proposed Services Acquisition Reform Act: Chief acquisition officer. The bill would require that the new position report directly to the agency head. Officials agreed that the position should be high up in the agency structure, but said mandating placement could be too disruptive.

Acquisition workforce training. The bill would establish a central fund, paid for with fees on governmentwide contracts. Officials said training is necessary to improve acquisition, but every agency needs to determine its own needs.

Share-in-savings contracting. The bill would endorse this and other innovative contracting practices. Officials said unproven methods should not be highlighted without further pilots.

NEXT STORY: Justice awards Mega deal

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.