Davis plans services buying reform bill

Davis plans services buying reform bill

'As we learned from Y2K, the federal government needs significant help in identifying mission-critical systems and understanding the full range of interoperabilities from agency to agency.'
'REP. TOM DAVIS

Agencies can expect Congress and the General Accounting Office to pay even more attention to mission-critical IT systems and disaster recovery plans early next year.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy, plans to review every department IT and telecommunications disaster recovery plan to make sure the government can operate seamlessly in the event of an emergency.

GAO is collecting information on these plans and will submit its findings to the subcommittee.

'As we learned from Y2K, the federal government needs significant help in identifying mission-critical systems and understanding the full range of interoperabilities from agency to agency,' Davis said at a breakfast hosted by Aronson, Fetridge & Weigle, a Vienna, Va., consulting firm. 'While we need to devote more funding to assist agencies in meeting these new challenges, before we simply set up a fund, we must also ensure agencies are appropriately planning for disaster recovery of major systems.'

Reviews coming

The subcommittee promises to be busy in January and February as Davis oversees a number of reviews, including the plan for GovNet, a government-only voice and data network that would be hardened against attack [GCN, Oct. 22, Page 8].

Davis said the subcommittee will conduct oversight hearings early next year, and he is working with GAO to review information submitted by vendors on the project.

Davis focused much of the discussion on the Services Acquisition Reform Act, which he hopes to introduce this week.

The bill could change the way the government buys more than $87 billion worth of services.

'We have found that many federal agencies still do not engage in strategic planning for acquisitions,' Davis said. 'Many agencies simply do not realize that acquisition is often the most significant portion of their yearly discretionary budget.'

Davis proposes a centralized acquisition work force training program that will be funded by taking 5 percent of all fees collected by General Services Administration and other governmentwide acquisition contracts.

'Training usually is the first item that is cut during budgets,' Davis said. 'This is a long-term problem for the government, with 60 percent of all acquisition personnel eligible to retire over the next five years.'

SARA also would open GSA's IT schedule to state and local governments to better meet accessibility requirements and create efficiencies, he said, and extend the share-in-savings pilot program to all agencies.

SARA would create a chief acquisition officer within every agency who would answer to the head of the department. The bill also would increase the thresholds for government purchase cards and simplified acquisitions.

Senate uncertain

Davis could face an uphill battle to pass SARA. He said he is confident of moving it through the House next session but is wary about the Senate.

The administration also has some reservations. Angela Styles, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, discussed those reservations before Davis' subcommittee Oct. 31.

Styles said agencies should continue to fund training through the normal budget and appropriations process.

She also did not support the concept of a chief acquisition officer or extending the share-in-savings pilot, for which she said agency interest has been weak and benefits have been unclear.

'SARA, first and foremost, contains a comprehensive acquisition training and workforce title that will help us change the management challenges that continue to exist,' Davis said. 'The procurement reform initiatives will move the government toward a business management culture.'

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