Under Bill, Vendors Could Continue To Seek GAO Review of Contract Awards

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WASHINGTON — Vendors who fail to win contract task and delivery orders could continue to seek U.S. federal review under a provision in the House-passed Defense authorization bill.

As of May 27, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is no longer required to hear protests for task and delivery orders on civilian agency contracts valued in excess of $10 million. But the National Defense Authorization Act would require GAO to continue to hear task and delivery order protests until Sept. 20, 2016.

An extension has already been given for protests of Defense Department task and delivery orders.

Congress in 2008 expanded GAO’s authority to decide contractor protests to include task and delivery orders, which have accounted for about half of the 15 percent growth in protests that GAO has seen each year since then.

Also included in the authorization bill, which awaits action by the Senate, are procurement-related measures that would:

  • Preclude agencies from requiring a bidding contractor to disclose political contributions. This would effectively pre-empt a draft executive order that would require government contractors to disclose their spending on lobbying and political campaigns.
  • Add acquisition work force functions and functions necessary to maintain expertise and technical capability to the list of functions for which the Defense Department should give consideration to using federal employees in place of contractors.
  • Require the secretary of defense to develop and implement a total force management plan that would determine the appropriate mix of military, civilian and contractor personnel for the department’s mission. Where conversion of personnel is considered, the department must comply with current law that gives special consideration to civilian employees and requires public-private competition.
  • Lift the suspension of Defense Department public-private competitions after the department submits a review of public-private competitions and GAO has completed an assessment of the report.
  • Recommend that the Defense Department not give federal employees jobs that are being done in the private sector if those functions or positions are not inherently governmental in nature.
  • Extend the current cap on annual executive compensation on federal contracts to any individual working on a contract. The cap, last updated April 15, 2010, is $693,951.
  • Require the Defense Contract Audit Agency to annually report its audit activities during the previous fiscal year, including significant problems, abuses and deficiencies; number of audit reports; time taken for each audit; the dollar value of contracts questioned by auditors; and recommendations for corrective actions. The report would also summarize any backlog of pending contractor audits and a cause of the backlog.
  • Include contractors along with civilian and military personnel as part of the secretary’s assessment of the department’s work force in the annual report to Congress.
  • Improve Defense Department oversight of private security contractors by requiring a Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan providing standards for oversight of private security contracts and requiring one official in the country of operations to certify confidence in the oversight plans.
  • Create an assistant secretary of defense for contingency contracting to be the principal adviser of the secretary and the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics on planning, funding, staffing and managing contingency contracting.