DOD to call for reviews of buying to 'Get It Right'

In an effort to allay lawmakers' concerns about contracting problems, the Defense Department's top procurement officer plans to issue a memo requiring the military services to review planned purchases from multiple-award schedules.

Deidre Lee, director of Defense procurement and acquisition policy, speaking last week at the ITSGov conference in Washington, said release of the memo was imminent.

The memo comes after the Senate included two provisions in the DOD fiscal 2005 authorization bill to limit or prohibit Defense use of multiple-award schedules, including the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service. Lawmakers expressed concern that DOD acquisition officials were misusing civilian procurement vehicles.

By Oct. 1, each military service must establish a review process it will conduct before making purchases from FSS schedules or other purchasing vehicles.

'If we can demonstrate that we are doing procurement the right way, we can convince lawmakers that we don't need further legislation,' Lee said.

The House version of the bill does not contain the limits on schedule procurements.

While Lee is hopeful that the limits will not get through a conference committee to appear in the final version of the legislation, she said it definitely got the attention of GSA and DOD.

Lee has met with members of Congress several times in recent weeks to discuss the issue, including a dialogue last week with the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

The memo will remind Defense contracting officers that they can use the schedules but they must use them properly.

'We want to make sure that the contracts are within the scope of the schedule, and we are considering the proper fees and discounts,' she said.

The memo is a part of the Get It Right campaign that DOD and GSA launched in July, after contracting problems surfaced at both agencies.

Government procurement in general could be severely affected by any significant change in how Defense buyers use civilian purchasing vehicles.

A congressional aide suggested last week that GSA's Federal Technology Service could be forced to shut down if it lost DOD as a customer.

Defense accounts for 70 percent of all purchases made from governmentwide multiple-award schedules.

'We are the fat boy in the canoe,' Lee said. 'If we wiggle, water goes in the canoe. If we stand up, the boat flips over.'

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