Agreement reached by House and Senate Defense Committees on FY 2015 bill
The House and Senate Armed Services Committees last week released an Agreement on the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which details the policies and programs for the Department of Defense and some related programs for FY 2015. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure soon. The legislation includes a number of House Small Business Committee sponsored contracting reform provisions as well as authorization of funding for the Procurement Technical Assistance Program.
House Small Business Committee Chair Sam Graves has stressed that the reforms are intended to simplify the government procurement bidding process and help small business more fairly compete. He particularly noted his priority to reform reverse auctions, which he believes hurts taxpayers as well as small contractors, especially in industries like construction and design.
Below are a summary of the Committee sponsored small business provisions. Exact language can be found by section number (noted for each) in the bill text linked above:
- Design-Build Bidding Reform (Section 814) – Simplifies the multistep process of competing for design-build contracts with the Department of Defense. Originated as the Design Build Efficiency and Jobs Act of 2013.
- Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Reform (Section 821) – At the request of Graves, the NDAA included provisions to increase transparency and accountability in the Test Program for Negotiation of Comprehensive Small Business Subcontracting Plans.
- Contracting Data and Bundling Accountability (Section 822) – Brings more transparency to data reported on bundled and consolidated contracts. Originated as the Contracting Data and Bundling Accountability Act of 2013.
- Export Assistance for Small Businesses (Section 823) – At the request of Committee members, the NDAA included provisions intended to help small businesses comply with complicated import and export requirements with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and Export Administration Regulations.
- Reverse Auctions Reform (Section 824) – Within the Department of Defense, this provision limits the use of reverse auctions by banning the use of single-round reverse auctions, single-bid reverse auctions absent price protections, third-party reverse auctions that include inherently governmental functions or private past performance evaluations, and reverse auctions for design-build work. Given that 95 percent of reverse auctions are for contracts of less than $150,000, improper use of this tool has been harming small businesses, limiting competition, and delivering contracts that fail to save the taxpayers money. Originated as the Commonsense Construction Contracting Act of 2013.
- Women-Owned Small Businesses (Section 825) – Permits sole-source contracts for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically-Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) if there is only one WOSB or EDWOSB who can perform the work and the value of the contract is below $ 4 million, or $6.5 million for manufacturing. This provides WOSBs and EDWOSBs with the same sole-source authority currently available to HUBZone and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses firms. Originated as the Women’s Procurement Program Equalization Act of 2013.
Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) provisions:
- Section 823 of the agreement includes language that explicitly allows Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) to provide counseling on applicable regulations under section 38 of the Arms Export Control Act. Previous regulations had restricted counseling on export matters on the premise that they were not relevant to contracting with United States government agencies.
- The report, which details the authorized funding levels, recommends the additional funds over the budget request necessary to maintain the PTAP at FY 2014 levels.
For help with Government Contracting: contact your nearest Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Funded through Cooperative Agreements between the U.S. Department of Defense and state and local governments/institutions, PTACs provide free and low-cost assistance in virtually all areas of government contracting.