Regulatory reforms to hit competition, communication

Agencies announced their final plans on Aug. 23 that describe what they will begin to consider as possible reforms to current regulations to lighten the heavy load of rules that comes with the public sector.

Procurement officials are looking at changes to competition rules in the Federal Acquisition Regulation. They want to give small businesses a smoother path into the federal marketplace, and they intend to make agencies to pay small companies sooner after making their purchases.

In addition, regulators are reviewing the rules governing interaction between vendors and federal officials before awarding contracts, a touchy subject that many procurement officials have wondered about for years. Dan Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, plans to release a memo by the end of 2011 that discusses the rules about communications. It would supplement the OFPP's Myth Busters Campaign that talks about the misconceptions about government and industry talks.

Related coverage:

DOD wants tougher rules on single-bid competitions

DHS pushed to tighten IT acquisition policies

Considering competition, officials are looking to reduce the number of solicitations that end up with only one bid. Defense Department acquisition officials proposed a policy on July to tighten DOD’s own rules to get “real competition.”

The final plan for regulatory reviews also includes conflict of interest, for organizations and for individuals, competition with blanket purchase agreements, and how to properly review a company’s past performances. Regulators are also working with the Small Business Administration to update rules for using set-aside contracts and small business subcontracting plans.

Many of the proposed reviews have been underway for at least a year.

This and other agencies' review plans are based on President Barack Obama’s executive order from January. In it, he told agencies to modernize and increase the transparency of their regulation of industry and commerce.

In an Aug. 23 post on the White House blog, Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget, wrote that just a few changes will save money. He also emphasized that this exercise is not done.

“Perhaps more important, today’s plans explicitly recognize that the regulatory look-back is not a one-time endeavor,” he wrote.

About the Author

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

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