Bill to streamline federal agency tech acquisition introduced in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) listens as Transportation Security Administrator David Pekoske speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images).

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Senate lawmakers introduced a new bipartisan bill intended to improve agile technology acquisition within the federal government. 

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Wednesday introduced the AGILE Procurement Act.

The legislation would require the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the General Services Administration to streamline the ability of the federal government to purchase commercial technology and to provide specific training for IT and communications tech acquisition.

It also marks the latest attempt by Senate lawmakers to pass laws to mandate the upskilling of the federal government acquisition workforce. Last year, lawmakers in the chamber passed a bipartisan bill designed to improve federal employees’ understanding of the threats and opportunities presented by artificial intelligence, although the legislation has yet to be advanced by the House.

If the AGILE Procurement Act moves forward, it would provide a pilot program to bring more junior and mid-career professionals into federal procurement from other fields, including the military. It would would also create a working group to reduce barriers for federal contractors.

In addition, the bill is intended to facilitate the governmentwide expansion of an existing DOD program that incentivizes employee stock ownership plans among federal contractors.

Commenting on the proposed legislation, Sen. Peters said: “Recent technological advancements have greatly increased the federal government’s need to acquire new technologies and retain qualified procurement professionals to effectively serve taxpayers.” He added: “This bipartisan legislation will ensure businesses are able to provide innovative solutions to the federal government’s most pressing challenges and can compete on a level playing field to win federal contracts.” 

Sen. Ernst added: “The federal government should be focused on recruiting and retaining skilled procurement specialists within our government agencies, not wasting federal dollars on outsourcing work to costly government contractors.” She said: “By redirecting efforts to acquire the properly equipped professionals and removing red-tape on high-tech small businesses, we will see a more effective and less costly implementation of our advanced technology goals.”

The legislation is supported by trade groups including the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, the Information Technology Industry Council, GovEvolve, HUBZone Contractors National Council, Women’s Procurement Circle and Women Veterans Business Coalition.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that the legislation would expand an existing DOD program to incentivize employee stock ownership plans among federal contractors.

-In this Story-

HUBZone Contractors National Council, Information Technology Industry Council, Joni Ernst, Sen. Gary Peters, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
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