Defense contracting bill to hit House this week

The House this week will take up a bipartisan bill aimed at changing the way the Pentagon buys equipment and awards contracts for services in an attempt to save billions of dollars annually.

The bill augments the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act enacted last year and would affect the 80 percent of defense procurement not covered by that act. Major targets include service contracts, which consume more than 50 percent of the military's procurement spending, and information services and software.

The measure also builds on last year's effort to expand the defense acquisition workforce, by improving the training and support for the procurement professionals.

The legislation, unanimously approved last week by the House Armed Services Committee, is a certain victory for House Democrats, who already are claiming it as a victory for fiscal responsibility.

"This legislation will save taxpayers billions of dollars on defense acquisition spending while ensuring that our troops have the equipment they need to stay safe and get the job done," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., in a statement last week.

But with no similar measure drafted in the Senate, the bill will likely not move forward on its own. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., has said he expects to also attach it as an amendment to the fiscal 2011 defense authorization measure, which the committee will mark up next month.

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