Monday, July 22, 2019

NDAA 2020 - Study the Applicability of Section 809 Panel Recommendations to Energy Department

This is another installment of our coverage of the 2020 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). The Senate and House have passed their respective versions of the 2020 NDAA and differences in the two bills are now being reconciled in conference committee. Although there is no certainty that the provisions we have been highlighting, including this one, will make it to the President's desk, they do not seem overly partisan so we think they will likely make it to the final legislation.

A lot of the provisions in both the Senate and House bills call for more studies including the following study to determine whether the recommendations from the Section 809 committee can be applied to the Department of Energy.

The Section 809 Panel was established under the 2016 NDAA to study and make recommendations on streamlining and codifying acquisition regulations for the Department of Defense. The Panel issued three reports containing recommendations related to improving the defense acquisition process. While these recommendations were not aimed at the Department of Energy (DOE), the Panel believed that DOE faces a number of the same acquisition challenges. Therefore, the Senate included a provision in the 2020 NDAA that directs the Government Accountability Office to assess the application of some of the recommendations.

First, GAO is to review issues affecting DOE's acquisition workforce. Specifically, the Senate is interested in DOE's workforce planning efforts, particularly related to (i) how it determines the number of acquisition professionals needed and the skills and training required for those positions, (ii) whether DOE's acquisition professionals attain the needed training and skills, (iii) any challenges in recruitment and retention of DOE's acquisition workforce and (iv) any systemic challenges for those professionals in performing their acquisition oversight responsibilities.

Second, the Senate finds the portfolio management framework recommended by the Section 809 Panel compelling and therefore directs GAO to study whether it can be ported over to DOE.

Finally, the Section 809 Panel provided examples of essential audit and non-audit services provided by DoD agencies across the contract life-cycle. Most of these services are performed pursuant to FAR requirements which are generally applicable to all agencies, including DOE. The Senate directs GAO to review how DOE obtains the required audit and non-audit services and whether there are any opportunities for improvement or efficiency in how DOE obtains these services.

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