In 1972, the Commission on Government Procurement wrote that Congress should limit its acquisition legislation to fundamental acquisition matters and let the Executive Branch implement Congress’s policy through specific acquisition regulation.
If Congress had listened, it would be passing less acquisition legislation and the FAR Councils would be performing their regulatory duty to implement Congress’s acquisition policies. Unfortunately, Congress didn’t listen.
Today, Congress doesn’t deal with fundamental acquisition matters, it deals with acquisition minutiae and details–especially when it comes to the Department of Defense (DoD). Someone thinks of an idea and before you know it it’s a legislative requirement. Apparently, no thought is too small for another bit of defense acquisition legislation. For the most part, Congress meddles in the acquisition process through the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. These committees propose acquisition legislation in their annual National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) with much of it in Title VIII of the NDAAs. Title VIII is usually labeled: Acquisition Policy, Acquisition Management, and Related Matters.
In the past 17 NDAAs, Congress has passed nearly 900 sections of legislation. What is worse, Congress is picking up its legislative pace and passing more legislation than ever. Read about Congress’s junk legislation, zombie legislation, and just plain old excessive and incoherent legislation.
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