TSA's nonstandard acquisition system draws questions

After questioning the Transportation Security Administration’s need for a nonstandard acquisition system, lawmakers introduced new legislation to keep watch over the agency’s procurement process.

Introduced by Rep. Chris Carney (D-Penn.) and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the bill would increase transparency in the agency’s acquisition process.

TSA uses the Acquisition Management System (AMS), developed by the Federal Aviation Administration in the late 1980s, to handle acquisitions. But most federal agencies use the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) system, which mandates full and open competitions and oversight from the Government Accountability Office.

“AMS allows TSA to manage competitions and focus on firms most likely to receive an award,” said Richard Gunderson, assistant administrator for acquisition at TSA.

“If the FAR is good enough for the overwhelming majority of the federal government, why not for TSA?” Carney askedat a hearing today before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Management, Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee.

Contracting experts at the hearing said this process adversely affected competition by confusing smaller businesses.

“Multiple systems present a daunting task, particularly to small businesses,” said Alan Chvotkin, counsel and senior vice president of the Professional Services Council.

He said TSA should be under the same set of regulations as the rest of the Homeland Security Department to maintain consistency for oversight and eliminate any contractor confusion.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.