President vetoes Defense authorization bill

President Obama exercised his veto power Thursday (Oct. 22, 2015) for just the fifth time in his presidency, rejecting a defense authorization bill because of the way it would sidestep budget limitations for the military and because it would restrict the transfer of detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.

The White House said that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would tap an overseas contingency operations account designed for emergencies and war costs and use it as a “slush fund” to avoid budget restrictions. Those restrictions — known as sequestration — would impose offsetting across-the-board cuts if spending passed certain levels.

“The president believes that the men and women who serve in our armed forces deserve adequate and responsible funding, not through a gimmick or not through a slush fund but one that would — could withstand scrutiny,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

Keep reading this article at:

SBA rule authorizes sole source awards to WOSBs and EDWOSBs

The Small Business Administration (SBA) published a rule today (Sept. 14, 2015) allowing sole source awards to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) or Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) in appropriate circumstances.


SBA sealThe new rule changes existing SBA regulations in order to conform to section 825 of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The rule is effective October 14, 2015.  The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) will need to be amended to include the sole source authority so that there is no conflict between the SBA’s rules and the FAR.

The sole source authority can only be used where a contracting officer (CO) conducts market research in an industry where a WOSB or EDWOSB set-aside is authorized, and the CO cannot identify two or more WOSBs or EDWOSBs that can perform at a fair and reasonable price, but identifies one WOSB or EDWOSB that can perform. In addition, the sole source authority for WOSBs and EDWOSBs is limited to contracts valued at $6.5 million or less for manufacturing contracts and $4 million or less for all other contracts.

The rule is published in the Federal Register at:



New DFARS proposed rule on commercial items acquisition and subcontracting: An end run on Congress?

On Monday, August 3, 2015, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a long-awaited proposed rule that could have a significant impact on how the DoD and prime contractors procure commercial items.  

US DoD logoThe Proposed Rule is said to merely implement Section 831(a) of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but goes much further, proposing significant substantive changes to what qualifies as a “commercial item” under DoD-funded contracts and imposing significant burdens on prime contractors to gather data from their commercial item subcontractors.

Section 831 directed DoD to, among other things, issue guidance including “standards for determining whether information on the prices at which the same or similar items have previously been sold is adequate for evaluating the reasonableness of prices.”  Section 831 was, in part, a response to DoD’s recent efforts to narrow the broad commercial item paradigm created by Congress in the 1990s, including a 2012 DoD legislative proposal to change the statutory and regulatory definition of “commercial item.”

Specifically, DoD requested legislation to grant DoD greater access to cost or pricing data associated with commercial items and sought to change the definition of commercial items to exclude items that are merely “offered for sale” or “of a type” offered for sale in the marketplace.  Congress declined to make those changes, recognizing the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) purposefully includes a broad definition of commercial items in order to ensure that the federal government has access to products available in the commercial marketplace.

Keep reading this article at:

Current and former DoD execs rally against NDAA amendment decentralizing DoD acquisition power

Current and former Defense Department officials have taken issue with a provision in the Senate’s defense authorization proposal that shifts power away from Pentagon’s acquisition chief.

US DoD logoThe Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2016 includes a provision that would shift decision-making power on acquisition matters from the assistant defense secretary for acquisition and logistics – currently Frank Kendall – to the service chiefs.

At a July 17 Center for Strategic and International Studies panel discussion, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Alan Estevez said the shift of power will cut off the assistant defense secretary at the knees.

Keep reading this article at:

House bill makes incremental acquisition reform, Senate version makes sweeping changes

While acquisition reform provisions in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) are a first step in a multi-year transformation, the Senate’s version is much more sweeping, says a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.

Congressional Research ServiceThe acquisition reform sections of the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2016 NDAA have many similarities, with more than half of the provisions in the Senate bill addressing the same issues found in the House bill.

But the overall scope of the two bills is very different, says the CRS report posted by open government expert Stephen Aftergood on his Secrecy News blog.

“Taken as a whole, the House bill was not intended to be a panacea for what ails defense acquisitions,” the report says.

The CRS says it is intended to serve as an initial step in a multi-year, collaborative effort to improve acquisitions.

Keep reading this article at: