Senate passes contracting oversight bill

The Senate has passed its version of a bill to alleviate many problems with federal contracting, such as a potential workforce shortage, interagency contracts and the awarding of $100 million-plus contracts to a single contractor.

The Accountability in Contracting Act, passed Nov. 7, would prepare the workforce for the wave of retirements officials expect within a short span of time. To this end, the bill would require agencies to appoint an associate administrator for workforce programs to oversee the acquisition workforce training fund and help with workforce succession plans. The appointee would also administer individual agency internship programs for acquisition employees.

Along the same lines, the bill would create a governmentwide acquisition internship program to strengthen the workforce. The legislation sets a goal of having at least 200 interns graduate from the program annually.

To get a handle on increasingly popular interagency contracts, the bill would require the president’s administration to give Congress a comprehensive report on the contracts, including how often agencies use them, how much they cost to manage and if they save any money.

Additionally, the bill would ban departments from awarding task or delivery orders worth more than $100 million to a single contractor and would allow contractors to protest orders valued at more than $5 million. It also would limit the length of contracts awarded without a competition.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously. The House passed a similar bill in March. Lawmakers will now work the differences between the bills in conference.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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