Davis preps acquisition reform

New legislation to be introduced by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) in the coming weeks would exempt information technology buys from "buy American" requirements and would again seek to let state and local governments use the General Services Administration's schedule contracts, Davis said.

The Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA), which could be officially unveiled as early as Oct. 25, also would create a preference for performance-based contracts and would add incentives for agencies that use innovative contracting concepts such as share-in-shavings, Davis said. He made his comments during a speech Oct. 23 at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's annual Vision Conference in Alexandria, Va.

One of the most controversial parts of the bill, however, would be to re-examine socioeconomic requirements, such as provisions that call for agencies to set aside a certain amount work for disadvantaged businesses. The required dollar thresholds have not been updated since they were created, Davis said. Some have argued that although the thresholds may have been fine when they were instituted, they now need to be adjusted for inflation.

"The thresholds are not in line," Davis said, acknowledging that the provision will be controversial.

Davis said, however, that the most important factor for government procurement is getting the best value for the taxpayers.

The legislation was in the works before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but has been delayed because of the attacks and the anthrax scare that prompted the House of Representatives to close down.

For the past several years, Davis also has been pushing to allow cooperative purchasing, which would let state and local governments use the GSA IT schedule. The provision has largely failed because of non-IT firms — specifically pharmaceutical companies — that were concerned about potential competition. Davis said that SARA will focus on cooperative purchasing for IT contracts only.

Davis is also working on a bill that will cover IT worker pay issues.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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