For decades Congress has demonstrated its deep interest in simplifying the federal government’s ability to buy commercial products and services. It recognized that to solve government’s most difficult problems, the government must have ready access to the innovative and rapidly evolving commercial marketplace.
But the government’s transactions in the commercial marketplace, which should be quick and easy, have gotten more complicated over the years, not less so. This is due in large part to the volume and complexity of government-unique contract terms and conditions.
Volume 1 of the Section 809 Panel report includes several recommendations for Congress’ consideration that will truly simplify contracts for commercial products and services. Among other strategies, Recommendation 2 makes the case for Congress retaining the authority to determine the applicability of new government-unique requirements that are well-intended but burdensome, rather than delegating that authority to the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council or the Department of Defense.
In 1994, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act took important steps to make the government more commercial-like in its dealings in the commercial marketplace. FASA limited the applicability of many, but not all, procurement-related statutes in two ways. First, many statutes in effect at the time FASA was enacted were made inapplicable to commercial buying, significantly simplifying federal contract compliance and administrative burdens.