Defense streamlines wartime purchasing

DOD wants 'to reduce the regulatory burden by 40 percent to 60 percent and cut the regulation process in half,' says Michael W. Wynne, principal deputy undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

R.D. Ward

As the military engaged in fighting earlier this month in Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Department procurement officials applied a special rule in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement to speed buys supporting overseas operations.

During times of war, DFARS lets contracting officials use increased acquisition thresholds, said Deidre A. Lee, director of Defense procurement. In an April 4 memorandum, Lee reminded department acquisition and procurement officials of the DOD's temporary emergency procurement authority.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation and its Defense counterpart 'allow us to treat buys that directly support defense against or recovery from terrorism or chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological attack as commercial items with no dollar limitation for use of simplified acquisition procedures,' Lee noted.

If contract officials are still getting bogged down by the procurement rules in the supplement, they should alert military acquisition leaders and submit suggestions on ways to improve processes, Lee said.

'Please let me know when you identify opportunities to improve processes, shorten cycle times and enhance responsiveness to the customer. We will use your input to assess results and make needed changes,' she said.

Lee's memo comes as Defense is finishing a 75-day review of DFARS. By April 30, a task force that began work in mid-February is schedule to recommend ways to streamline Defense buying rules, said Michael W. Wynne, principal deputy undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

'My mark is to reduce the regulatory burden by 40 percent to 60 percent and cut the regulation process in half,' Wynne told service acquisition leaders in an earlier memo.

'I am challenging DOD's acquisition community to take advantage of this opportunity to initiate dramatic improvements to the procurement process, reduce costs and administrative burdens, and foster the generation of creative and innovative ideas,' Wynne said.

The department is accepting and reviewing comments on how to improve DFARS at www.acq.osd.mil/dp/dars/transf.htm.

New authorities

Allan Burman, former federal procurement director and president of the government division of Jefferson Consulting Group, said he agrees with DOD's stance that changed times means establishing new authorities to the DFARS.

'We've got to be looking at ways to unbind the process so we can react with agility to the various kind of threats,' Burman said. 'They are asking people for their ideas on this so that they can grind things down.'

Since April 1, DOD has received more than 200 public comments on ways to improve the supplement. The task force is reviewing the suggestions and will develop legislative proposals for consideration by Congress, Lee said.

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