GAO: SARA implementation uneven

Implementation of the Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA) is proceeding at an uneven pace, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

GAO officials found that although most of the provisions of the law, passed in 2003, are being implemented, some are further along than others.

Specifically, GAO found:

* The Acquisition Workforce Training fund that the act calls for has been established. Efforts are under way to determine what training and experience acquisition professionals need, and to develop training to meet those needs.

* The Chief Acquisition Officers Council has been created and has met five times. The council's executive committee meets monthly.

* Rulemaking to encourage greater use of performance-based contracting is under way, but a similar process to allow the use of time-and-materials contracting to procure services is moving more slowly.

* Rules allowing emergency procurement authority have been finalized, but the authorization for civilian agencies to enter into agreements for research and development or prototype projects related to nuclear, chemical and biological weapon defense is moving slowly.

In a written statement, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who sponsored SARA, expressed disappointment with progress in some areas.

"While I'm encouraged by the progress of the [Bush] administration in some areas, I feel that the implementation should be further along, nearly one and a half years after enactment of SARA," said Davis, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. "It appears that the necessary rulemaking procedures to allow many of the provisions to take full effect have been exceedingly slow in some areas."

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