Senate backs holding TSA to standard contracting rules

The Senate attached an amendment to the fiscal 2008 Homeland Security appropriations bill late Thursday that would require the Transportation Security Administration to adhere to the same procurement regulations as other federal agencies.

Senators agreed to the amendment, introduced by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, by unanimous consent, before completing the spending bill.

The language would require TSA to follow rules set out in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, which apply to almost all federal agencies.

"Why should an agency fraught with wasteful spending and contract mismanagement continue to receive a free ride while every other major federal agency must abide by the law?" Kerry said in a statement. "The taxpayers deserve better. Our small businesses deserve better. This change to bring transparency and accountability to the TSA is long overdue."

Kerry is the chairman of the Small Business Committee; Snowe is the ranking member.

The Senate passed an identical amendment last year during consideration of the fiscal 2007 Homeland Security appropriations bill, but the provision was removed in conference negotiations with the House. Kerry spokeswoman Kathryn Seck said the amendment has a better chance this year because the Democrats control Congress.

"The language was stripped out in conference by the Republicans last year," Seck said. "There's no reason for this to not go forward other than Republican obstructionism, and Senator Kerry is certainly going to work to keep it in."

John Gentzel, press secretary for Snowe, said she also is working hard to ensure the amendment remains part of the spending bill.

TSA has been exempt from governmentwide acquisition rules since its inception in November 2001, to allow the agency to quickly install security screening equipment at airports after Sept. 11.

The Professional Services Council, an association representing contractors, has endorsed the amendment, saying it would help standardize procurement processes, increase competition and expand opportunities for small businesses.

As the TSA language heads toward the stage at which it was killed last year, the future of the spending bill as a whole remains unclear. The Senate's version has about $3 billion more in total spending than the House's version. It also surpasses President Bush's request by $5.3 billion. Bush has vowed to veto any spending bill that exceeds his request.

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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    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 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

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