GOOD AND BAD IN SENATE DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION MEASURE
The Senate is poised to consider its version of the FY’18 Department of Defense Authorization bill this week. As usual, there are things contractors like about the acquisition provisions and things that would harm their federal business. On the plus side, Section 825 would further limit the use of LPTA contracting in DOD. GAO would be able to review and recommend changes on LPTA procurements of $5 million or more, instead of the current $10M. This would, in turn, potentially make LPTA procurements more difficult to justify and indirectly promote best value procurements. Section 829 would remove the “temporary” freeze on DOD public-private competitions. The hold has been in place since 2010 and contractors are hoping Section 829 will enable more competitions, providing opportunities to do work now done by DOD employees. Sections 830 and 831, however, would essentially enshrine “contractor blacklisting” provisions in DOD acquisition rules. CO’s would be required to vet companies based on their adherence to all federal laws, not just those related to procurement. Section 831 deals with the same issue in terms of labor laws. Lastly, although the definition of “commercial item” has served industry and government well since the mid-1990’s, Section 851 would re-classify commercial items with “minor” changes as non-commercial. This could drive up acquisition costs and return industry and DOD to the day of milspecs for every item under the sun. Once passed, the Senate bill will have to be reconciled with its House counterpart. We recommend checking in with your associations on these matters and ensure that your voice is heard as Congress considers where and whether to reset the boundaries of the DOD marketplace.