Congress

Sen. Hatch dives into the FAR

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah.) 

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wants answers from IT contractors on whether agencies are exploring commercial options in technology acquisitions.

Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation, agencies must consider existing commercial products before seeking to develop custom solutions to meet their needs. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is asking vendors whether agencies are complying with those guidelines and taking full advantage of commercially available options.

In an Oct. 5 letter, Hatch announced that the committee wants to know whether agencies are conducting in-depth market research into off-the-shelf, or non-developmental, technologies that don't require investments in new, expensive IT systems.

"The committee is concerned that government agencies are not doing enough to fully utilize existing commercial or non-developmental options, [which] are all too often absent from federal IT contracts," Hatch said.

Under the FAR, prime and subcontractors are required to incorporate commercial and non-developmental products that meet agencies needs whenever possible.

The letter notes that the Finance Committee has oversight authority over the Social Security Administration, the IRS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which "collectively spend hundreds of billions on IT."

In particular, Hatch is seeking industry feedback on whether agencies are conducting market research in accordance with FAR Part 10, whether vendors are aware of any acquisitions in which agencies exclude commercial solutions and whether aspects of the FAR are not being fully used.

He has asked for responses by Nov. 2.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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