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: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=419112

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: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/current-and-former-dod-execs-rally-against-ndaa-amendment-decentralizing-do/2015-07-21

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: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/crs-house-ndaa-makes-incremental-acquisition-reform-while-senate-bill-makes/2015-07-08

No more charging strippers to Uncle Sam’s plastic

Federal employees who want to gamble or frequent strip clubs for an evening of fun will have to use their own credit cards to pay for it.

PcardAn amendment included in the House-passed fiscal 2016 Defense spending bill prohibits Defense civilian workers and military personnel from using government charge cards for expenses related to “gaming, or for entertainment that includes topless or nude entertainers or participants.”

The language specifically prohibits gaming, rather than any expenses at a casino, so lodging and meals, for example, would be exempt.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., sponsored the amendment, which was adopted on voice vote. The House on Thursday passed the fiscal 2016 Defense spending bill. The full Senate has not yet considered its fiscal 2016 Defense appropriations legislation.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/management/2015/06/no-more-charging-strippers-uncle-sams-plastic/115174

See related story at: Senators Want GSA to Catch Feds Who Use Plastic at Strip Clubs

Military chiefs say they’re often blindsided by acquisition problems

Interviews with 12 current and former military service chiefs reveal strong dissatisfaction with their Pentagon acquisition colleagues, who too often change the requirements for weapons systems or demand additional capability, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

pentagon-seal“Some current and former service chiefs said that because they lack visibility into programs, they are unable to influence trade-offs between requirements and resources,” said the watchdog in a report released Thursday. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps chiefs said they are “frequently caught by surprise when cost, schedule, and performance problems emerge in programs.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/06/military-chiefs-say-theyre-often-blindsided-acquisition-problems/115177