Procurement time limit targeted

The Office of Management and Budget may relax a proposed 12-month time limit for completing federal procurements contained in revisions to OMB's Circular A-76, according to a senior OMB official. However, the change probably will not be a dramatic one.

The proposed rule changes, published last year but still not finalized, are aimed at making government more cost-effective by opening more federal work to private-sector competition.

Opponents, including 35 Democratic senators who sent a letter last week to OMB Director Mitchell Daniels Jr., say the changes put federal jobs at risk. Proponents say the revisions speed the process and create new business opportunities for private firms.

However, the 12-month time limit has brought the greatest volume of comment, said John Kalavritinos, OMB's associate administrator for competitive sourcing. Speaking today at a conference hosted by The Performance Institute in Washington, D.C., he said OMB is considering changing the time requirement.

"There will be something in the new circular that to the best of our ability will strongly encourage something in the range of 12 months. Will it be 14 months? I'm not saying it's going to stay 12, but I am saying that [it will be] a strict time frame with the ability to have some sort of out," he said.

Under the current proposal, agencies can claim a waiver from the 12-month requirement under certain conditions, he added.

The time limit is "probably the most consistent criticism from the public sector, and the it's the single most positive from individual commenters," he said. "Frankly, while wanting to take into account exceptions, we have to be very mindful of the fact that one half of the equation — those that are trying to bid on jobs—are not even interested in trying to enter into this competition because why would they want to seek work that would take up to three, possibly four years?"

The new rules are expected to take effect within a matter of weeks, according to OMB officials.

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