Lawmakers on Thursday questioned two nominees for senior government operations positions in the Bush administration about performance-based service contracts, outsourcing and other management issues. At a hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Angela Styles, nominee for administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget, told committee members that "serious competitive problems" have surfaced with the proliferation of governmentwide contracting vehicles and acquisition services. "The real challenge for OFPP and this administration will be to balance the obvious benefits of increased efficiencies with the maintenance of fundamental concepts of competition, due process, integrity and transparency," said Styles, who is an expert on government contracting and the 1998 Federal Activities and Inventory Reform Act. She previously served as special assistant to the commissioner of the Public Buildings Service at GSA and counsel to the Washington law firm Miller and Chevalier. Committee Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., quizzed Styles about the ability of agencies to meet the goals set in a March 9 memo from Sean O'Keefe, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, which directed agencies to increase their use of performance-based service contracts. "Part of the problem is there is no agreement among agencies over what qualifies as a performance-based service contract," Styles said. Linda Oliver, associate administrator of procurement law, legislation and innovation in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, recently noted that many procurement officials are unclear on how to define performance-based contracts, even though guidelines on such contracts exist. Styles was also critical of governmentwide acquisition contracts, testifying that there was no way to ensure that the government was getting the best deal when it used this approach. "In the long-term we need to look at the use of these contracts," Styles said. Stephen A. Perry, President Bush's nominee for administrator of the General Services Administration, outlined his agenda for the agency, which has a direct impact on how other agencies conduct their business. "Sustaining high performance will be a very big job," said Perry, a former senior vice president for human resources at the Timken Co., an Ohio-based manufacturer of steel alloys. Perry's goals included improving communication between the agency and Congress, developing better working relationships with other agencies and suppliers, addressing human resource management issues and better using the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act. "We will have performance measures and I will be actively taking corrective measures as needed to stay on course," Perry told legislators.
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