Senate Committee Approves AGILE Procurement Act for IT and Communications Tech
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs advanced the AGILE Act of 2022 in an effort to help improve the federal government’s IT procurement process.
The Advancing Government Innovation with Leading-Edge—AGILE—Procurement Act of 2022 was advanced by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Wednesday, with the aim of improving government IT procurement.
The act, which was introduced last week by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., states that Government Accountability Office analysis shows governmentwide contracting increasing, and about 80% of federal information technology budgets are spent on contracts. Furthermore, spending on “cybersecurity, software, cloud computing and artificial intelligence” is expected to grow, according to information cited in the bill. The bill also highlighted current issues with federal procurement, including recruitment and retention. As a result, the bill cites these growing technological developments and government demand to highlight the need for sound technology procurement.
The AGILE Procurement Act aims to modernize and improve the efficiency of federal government technology acquisition by recruiting and retaining qualified professionals and removing roadblocks for high-tech small businesses that want to work with the government.
Specifically, to improve the workforce, the proposed legislation seeks to establish the Pathways to Procurement Pilot Program. The program will allow the entry of junior and mid-career level professionals to the General Schedule Contracting series—GS-1102—by considering those from other job series and fields, provided they have educational and training entry requirement alternatives, among other things. The pilot program will last for at least five years from the enactment date of the act.
The bill calls for experiential learning to be added into the training framework for GS-1102. Additionally, the act provides for training on information and communications technology acquisition for acquisition workforce members. The proposed legislation outlines requirements of this training program, which will be offered for at least five years.
Furthermore, the AGILE Procurement Act provides a framework to improve procurement methods. For example, the administrator for Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget will offer guidance on “the availability of streamlined and alternative procurement methods” for IT and communications technology, such as simplifying procedures. Agency heads will also report information on contracts using these improved methods to OMB.
The act offers a plan to address red-tape and barriers to entry for federal contracting, such as examining past performance to help expand the pool of eligible contractors. In doing so, the bill seeks to reduce barriers to entry for entities that are trying to work with the federal government. It highlights the creation of a working group with representatives from various government agencies to address this issue, through actions like outside consultation and action examination, and the implementation of the group’s findings, among other things. It also revises the mandatory use of the cost accounting standards and adjusts the amount to $15 million.
Additionally, the proposed legislation creates incentives for businesses that use employee stock ownership plans, by creating a pilot program to use noncompetitive procedures to certain follow-on contracts for qualifying businesses that are wholly-owned through an employee stock ownership plan. This pilot program would end five years after the enactment of this act.