Legislation to Expand Federal Contracting Opportunities Reaches President’s Desk

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The legislation aims to improve government contracting opportunities for small businesses but could have a major impact on governmentwide procurement. 

Bipartisan legislation aimed at improving government contracting opportunities for small businesses awaits President Joe Biden’s signature following its passage in the House on Feb. 7.

Called the Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions, or PRICE Act, the legislation directs the Department of Homeland Security to compile and publish an annual report on successful projects that have used “innovative procurement techniques.” 

“Small businesses make up the foundation of our economy and additional hurdles during the federal contracting process can hinder their growth,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said in a statement. Peters cosponsored the legislation with Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. “I’m proud this bipartisan legislation has passed the House and urge President Biden to sign it into law as soon as possible so that small business owners in Michigan and across the nation can have a chance to provide innovative solutions to problems facing the federal government and the American people, and compete on a level playing field to win federal contracts.”

The legislation lays out five broad goals—improving and encouraging better competition, reducing time to award, achieving cost savings, achieving better mission outcomes and meeting goals for contracts awarded to small business concerns. It further directs the agency to “develop and disseminate guidance and offer training for,” acquisition specialists, and to share best practices with other federal agencies.

That sharing would be aided by the establishment of a governmentwide council of leading procurement officials within 45 days of the legislation being signed into law. The council—led by the federal procurement policy administrator—would include the DHS chief procurement officer and members from the General Services Administration and Departments of Defense, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, as well as the Small Business Administration.

The council would convene quarterly and ultimately submit a report to Congress outlining “innovative acquisition practices and applications of technologies that have worked well in achieving better procurement outcomes, including increased efficiency, improved program outcomes, better customer experience, and meeting or exceeding” Small Business Act goals.

The council’s report would also deliver “steps to identify and adopt transformational commercial business practices, modernized data analytics and advanced technologies that allow decision making to occur in a more friction-free buying environment and improve customer experience,” as well as recommendations to Congress.

Ultimately, the report would be made public through multiple federal websites.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Iowa’s economy, and we need to make sure they get their fair shot in the federal contracting process. This bipartisan bill, which I was proud to help pass in the Senate and now in the House, will help our business owners across the state have the opportunity to compete and succeed,” Ernst said in a statement.

Several contracting groups voiced support for the bill, including the Small Business Majority, the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, GovEvolve, HUBZone Contractors National Council and the Women Veterans Business Coalition.

“Small IT companies are at the forefront of innovation, but often face barriers when selling to the federal government,” said Eminence Griffin, executive director of the contracting advocacy organization GovEvolve. “The PRICE Act addresses the need for modernizing the federal acquisition system and will be transformative for small business IT contractors around the country.

The House sponsors of the legislation were Reps. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla.