Davis moves services bill through committee

Rep. Tom Davis has come a step closer to changing the way the government buys services and trains the acquisition work force. The Virginia Republican earlier this week pushed his Services Acquisition Reform Act, in the form of a substitute amendment, through the Government Reform Committee'a feat he failed to achieve last session.

Now the bill, HR 1837, will go to the full House for a vote.

'Each year our government spends over $200 billion buying goods and services,' Davis said. 'More than half of that, over $135 billion, is now spent on services, making services the government's single largest spending category. There are serious questions as to whether we're spending that money wisely.'

Davis said SARA will target several inefficiencies in buying services. The bill includes a variety of provisions to ease the contracting and training burden on agencies. (Click here for recent GCN coverage) It would create a chief acquisition officer, a supporting council and a centralized procurement work force training fund. Also, it would seek to increase use of contract incentives and make contracting more commercial in nature.

During the markup, committee members attached a number of amendments to SARA. Among them:

  • Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) added a provision to forbid the Office of Management and Budget to set numerical goals or quotas for agencies to compete a certain number of positions with the private sector under OMB Circular A-76.

  • Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking member, inserted a rider to expand the definition of a commercial item. It would include services that are offered and sold competitively in substantial quantities in the commercial marketplace, based on established prices for specific tasks or outcomes.

  • Another Waxman proposal would exempt contracts for commercial services worth $15 million or less from cost accounting standards and cost or price data requirements.

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