Following Up on Acquisition Reform

© Minerva Studio - Fotolia.com

© Minerva Studio – Fotolia.com

As we’ve discussed, there are proposals in the NDAA 2015 (which will apply to federal government activity in 2016) to deal with the question of acquisition reform.

For many of us, acquisition reform is a nice concept but not very relevant because most of the activity is really focused on giant procurements such as weapons, aircraft carriers, tanks, ships, etc.

The mundane act of procuring services like most of the contracts we’re on, including anything from mowing the lawns to providing high-end PhD engineers, is really not the subject of reform – even though it definitely could use some reform as well. But fundamentally, the real savings are in big weapons and things like that, so that is what gets the government’s attention.

The new legislation is still being worked through – the policy bill has not yet been passed by the Congress, they’re still debating it. Some of the outlines include a much finer granularity of attention to the program management of an acquisition, how costs are managed, and how things sometimes slip.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but the reality is that for me and most of my readers, this is a matter of what’s affectionately known as “looking up the eagle’s hind quarters.” We’re watching how all of this unfolds for the big players, the billion-dollar companies, and hoping to get some subcontract dollars.

It’s frustrating to be in that position, but all we can do is hope that Congress continues to pay some attention to the little guy. Even though these efforts are often focused on saving billions of dollars for big procurements, a large part of that money is spent on small companies that have no say in the process, because the big primes are the ones managing the work.

More will be revealed, and we’ll look at some of the policy questions in the coming months, as they start to be approved by one or both houses.


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