Small Business Committee blasts Pentagon for contract bundling

The Defense Department must do more to ensure that acquisition reforms do not drive small businesses out of the federal market, Reps. Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., and Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., said Wednesday. At a spirited hearing of the House Small Business Committee, Manzullo and Velazquez took turns blasting the Pentagon for falling short of its small business procurement goals and for promoting contract bundling, a practice in which federal contracts are combined with others before being put out for bid. Bundling makes it more difficult for small firms to bid on federal contracts, Velazquez said. While contract bundling saves time for procurement officials, the Pentagon should not need to use such practices when it has 19,000 contracting officers, according to Manzullo, the committee's chairman. "You tell us you don't have enough [officers] to do procurements, when you have 19,000 officers," Manzullo told Deidre Lee, director of defense procurement in the office of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. "Maybe we should have an oversight hearing on what these people are doing." Lee replied that the Pentagon's acquisition corps has been downsized from 30,000 officers to 19,000 employees since the mid-1990s. The committee heard testimony from several small business owners who criticized Defense's procurement practices. Maurice Allain, CEO of Phoenix Scientific Corp., a small Georgia-based defense contractor, said his company has been "devastated" by a bundled Air Force contract for weapons maintenance, called the Flexible Acquisition Sustainment Tool (FAST). Manzullo pledged to review the contract. Lee reported on a number of Pentagon initiatives to create more opportunities for small businesses. Pete Aldridge, Undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, has directed the services and defense agencies to create plans for meeting Defense's small business procurement goals, she said. The Pentagon is also putting teeth behind a requirement that all bundled contracts be justified by a cost-benefit analysis, Lee added. She said that Defense will soon allow women-owned small businesses to participate in the department's successful Mentor-Protégé program, which helps small, disadvantaged businesses learn the ropes of federal contracting. Small firms that are majority-owned by African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans or Native Americans may currently participate as protégés. "We know we need to do better," said Lee. Susan Walthall, acting chief counsel for advocacy at the Small Business Administration, testified that new procurement tools are hurting small businesses. The widespread use of government credit cards has led to a decline in the share of micropurchases, or purchases worth less than $2,500, going to small businesses, according to Walthall. "Other than convenience, there is very little data to reveal that the government is getting the best price with the use of the credit card," she said. "The data strongly suggest that the credit card has had a dramatic impact on the downward spiral of small purchases from small businesses."
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.