Acquisition reform gets through conference

The Services Acquisition Reform Act has survived the conference process largely intact, sponsor Rep. Thomas Davis (R.-Va.) says.

SARA, which would change the acquisition structure in many agencies, had been added to the Defense Authorization bill after passing the House Government Reform Committee, which Davis chairs.

"This is a huge win for fans of good government," he said in a statement. "While procurement reform may not be the sexiest issue before Congress, improving the way we acquire goods and services can help make the government leaner, meaner, more responsible and more accountable to taxpayers."

Davis previously tried to pass similar legislation, but it faltered. SARA builds on acquisition reforms of the 1990s, he said.

"We have not kept pace with the dynamics of an economy that has become, over the last few years, increasingly service- and technology-oriented," Davis said. "Without change, the current system cannot support the president's vision — expressed in his management agenda — of a government that is well-run, results-oriented, citizen-centered and market-based."

SARA will:

* Establish a civilian acquisition workforce training fund within the General Services Administration.

* Provide for the appointment of a noncareer chief acquisition officer in each agency who will serve as a high-level point person for acquisition activities.

* Provide for the establishment of a Chief Acquisition Officers Council to monitor and improve the federal acquisition system.

* Establish a governmentwide preference for the use of performance-based service contracts by treating certain service contracts less than $25,000 as contracts for commercial items.

This will authorize the use of simplified procedures for the award of performance-based service contracts and apply to them existing waivers of requirements and certifications.

* Provide for special streamlined procedures, based upon flexibilities in current law; for the procurement of property or services when the head of the agency determines the property or services are in support of a contingency operation; or to facilitate defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack.

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