Congress backs new training plan

Rep. Tom Davis

Henrik G. de Gyor

Congress has approved a multimillion-dollar fund to train civilian acquisition employees through the Federal Acquisition Institute, quadrupling the existing budget for such training.

The influx of money should change the way agencies buy services, said David Drabkin, the General Services Administration's deputy associate administrator for acquisition policy.

The fund was one of several provisions originally included in the Services Acquisition Reform Act that lawmakers attached to the Defense authorization bill that the Senate and House sent to the White House this month.

The bill would require GSA to deposit 5 percent of all fees collected under governmentwide acquisition contracts, including schedule contracts, to the training fund, which would be worth more than $4 million, based on fiscal 2003 revenue.

To do the job

'The money will allow FAI to move forward with training, competency assessments, academic research and business skills like leadership and communication,' Drabkin said. 'Traditionally, FAI lacked the funds to do the job Congress asked it to do, but now it will have the funding.'

The institute's budget has been about $1 million a year, Drabkin added.

SARA, sponsored by Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, also calls for:
  • Establishing a governmentwide preference for using a performance-based approach for commercial items'including services contracts'of less than $25 million

  • Authorizing use of time-and-materials and labor-hour contracts for certain commercial services

  • Clarifying the definition of a commercial item to include services, such as management consulting

  • Creating the post of chief acquisition officer to help focus senior management on the day-to-day operations at major agencies and launch a chief acquisition officer council.

Davis said agencies spend $135 billion a year on services and that this legislation will 'ensure that we're spending that money more wisely.'


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