WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing with outside experts to examine how lawmakers can save taxpayer dollars and bolster government efficiency by improving the federal government’s procurement process. The Committee discussed how allowing federal agencies to more effectively acquire modern and secure technology, as well as hiring and training more federal workers who are responsible for purchasing and effectively managing these technologies, will improve how the government delivers critical services to the American people. The hearing also discussed needed actions to modernize the government’s federal contracting process – including by eliminating barriers to entry for small and disadvantaged businesses – will boost innovation in how the government works to solve problems and deliver services for the nation.
“Federal agencies depend on procurement professionals to place contracts efficiently, to ensure that government needs are being met, and that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively,” said Senator Peters during his opening statement. “At the same time, we face several challenges that have made the procurement process both difficult to manage, and difficult to navigate for companies hoping to do business with the federal government. Those challenges include a shortage of procurement professionals, particularly those with expertise related to emerging technologies, along with steep barriers for new companies seeking their first federal contract, and a diminishing domestic industrial base that can support the government’s needs and requirements.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ question, click here.
Peters and the witnesses discussed how eliminating barriers of entry for new and disadvantaged small businesses in the federal contracting process would help these companies grow and allow them to provide innovative solutions to problems facing the federal government and the American people. During the hearing, Peters highlighted a law he wrote that expanded opportunities for small businesses to work with the federal government. The hearing also examined what reforms are needed to ensure federal employees are trained and prepared to safely and securely purchase emerging technologies. Peters discussed the benefits of his Senate-passed, bipartisan legislation to create a training program to help federal employees responsible for purchasing and managing artificial intelligence better understand its capabilities and potential risks.
The hearing builds on Peters’ efforts to improve government efficiency and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively. He recently convened a hearing to ensure pandemic emergency relief funds have been effectively used to help Americans affected by COVID-19. Peters’ bipartisan bill to save taxpayer dollars by ensuring federal property assets are disaster resilient has advanced in the Senate. As a part of the American Rescue Plan, Peters secured $1 billion for the Technology Modernization Fund to modernize federal government systems that deliver critical services, like unemployment insurance, to Americans. Peters’ provision to help save billions of federal taxpayer dollars by curbing erroneous payments to deceased individuals was signed into law last Congress. A law written by Peters to reduce duplicative software purchases called the MEGAByte Act has saved taxpayers more than $450 million since 2016.