Friday, October 2, 2015

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 - Part 3

We are continuing our coverage of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Although not yet signed by the President, the Bill has emerged from Conference Committee and the Senate and House will be voting on it soon. As we mentioned yesterday, several sources have reported that the President is threatening a veto of the bill however, the President's objections do not impact the topics we have been covering. Those will most likely remain in whatever bill is finally agreed upon.

Today we will discuss a curious short provision that has been tucked into the NDAA, Section 887, Effective Communication Between Government and Industry. The provision reads as follows:
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council shall prescribe a regulation making clear that agency acquisition personnel are permitted and encouraged to engage in responsible and constructive exchanges with industry, so long as those exchanges are consistent with existing law and regulation and do not promote an unfair competitive advantage to particular firms.
This short provision was offered by Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA) back on May 14, 2015 and survived both the House Committee and the House/Senate Conference Committee deliberations.

The subject of better and more frequent communication between the Government and industry was a hot topic back in 2011. Back then, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) came out with its 13 page "Myth-buster" memorandum. There was (and apparently still are) wide-spread perception that contracting officer should not meet with vendors for fear of causing contract delays, or committing some kind of ethics violation. The OFPP unsuccessfully tried to dispel that notion but the problem with non-responsive contracting officers lingers.

Perhaps a FAR requirement to make communications more pro-active will be more successful than a letter from the OFPP administrator.

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