Retreat called on 803 provision

The White House has abandoned its proposed restriction on how the Defense Department buys information technology services on the General Services Administration's schedule contracts.

Officials from the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) have told lawmakers and industry executives that they will not push a provision that would restrict DOD's schedule buys to those with a fixed, firm price. The provision would have prohibited the long-standing practice of hiring outside contractors to supply IT services on a labor-hour basis.

The Bush administration had been seeking to include the firm fixed-price provision as part of a rule designed to spur competition on multiple-award contracts. The final version of the rule, called Section 803 because of the part of the Defense authorization bill that specified the mandate, was to have been published in late June. It was delayed as DOD, OMB and lawmakers negotiated the fixed-price provision.

In a July 22 meeting, OFPP administrator Angela Styles told Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, that the provision would not be in the Section 803 rule, a spokesman for Davis said.

Furthermore, OFPP and OMB officials told members of the Coalition for Government Procurement, an industry group based in Washington, D.C., that the provision would not be included in the Section 803 regulation.

OMB officials did not respond to requests for clarification of their position.

Davis spokesman David Marin said that Styles said OFPP would put forward the firm fixed-price regulation at some other time — a move that Davis will oppose when it happens.

OMB's shift, however, is a significant win for industry, which had been adamantly opposed to the proposal.

Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, said that the rule should have never been lumped in with Section 803 in the first place.

Section 803 will require DOD buyers using multiple-award contracts to obtain at least three bids when making schedule purchases of more than $100,000.

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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