Peters & Ernst Bipartisan Legislation to Modernize the Way the Federal Government Acquires Technology Advances in Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) to modernize the way the federal government acquires technology has advanced in the Senate. The legislation would boost innovation in the procurement process and increase opportunities for innovative small businesses that want to contract with the federal government. The bill would also help the federal government attract and retain qualified procurement professionals, and provide the tools and training they need to purchase new technologies in a timely manner. The legislation was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, where Peters serves as Chair. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“Small businesses must have a fair shot at working with the federal government to serve the American people,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan bill will enable the federal government to acquire new technologies created by innovative small businesses, and ensure we can retain qualified procurement professionals who can help make sure taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively.”

“As our federal government continues to utilize private consulting contracts more and more, we need to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly,” said Senator Ernst. “The AGILE Act moves our government away from costly contracting firms to highly specialized individuals and small businesses, a more effective and cost-efficient way to advance our technology goals.”

Rapid technological developments and increased government demand have steadily increased the number of federal dollars spent on contracts to acquire new technology, including cybersecurity, software, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence, which are all areas projected for strong growth. The rise in demand has also brought about several challenges that have made the procurement process difficult to manage and navigate for companies hoping to do business with the federal government. Some of these challenges include a diminishing domestic industrial base, a shrinking procurement professional workforce, and steep barriers to entry for businesses seeking to win federal contracts.

The AGILE Procurement Act would require the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the General Services Administration to streamline the ability of the federal government to purchase commercial technology and provide specific training for information and communications technology acquisition. The legislation provides a pilot program to bring more junior and mid-career professionals into federal procurement from other fields, including veterans, military spouses, and private sector procurement professionals. The bill would also create a working group to reduce barriers to government contracting for businesses, including small businesses. Finally, the bill would allow the Department of Defense pilot contracting program to incentivize employee stock ownership plans, which are expected to help businesses grow while sharing company equity with their employees, to be expanded for government-wide use.

The legislation is supported by the Alliance for Digital Innovation, Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, the Information Technology Industry Council, Professional Services Council, GovEvolve, HUBZone Contractors National Council, Women’s Procurement Circle and Women Veterans Business Coalition.

Below are statements in support of the senators’ bipartisan legislation.

“The Alliance for Digital Innovation supports the AGILE legislation because it introduces flexibilities into the government acquisition process and promotes the use of innovative commercial solutions. These improvements will empower our federal government leaders to more quickly and fully leverage new and emerging technology and services to achieve their missions and promote a secure digital government,” said Ross Nodurft, Executive Director for the Alliance for Digital Innovation (ADI). “ADI appreciates Congress’s continued focus on modernizing and streamlining the federal acquisition process so that our government has the technologies it needs to better serve the American people. We will continue to work with HSGAC leadership on additional reforms in this critical policy area.” 

“APTAC thanks Senator Peters and Senator Ernst for leading the AGILE Procurement Act of 2022 and their hard work on these important issues,” said Ken Bloch, President of the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC).  “Reducing barriers to entry is key to increasing diverse small business participation and rebuilding the defense industrial base.  This bill’s features, especially recognizing the small business expertise of the PTAC network, will greatly aid in achieving these objectives. APTAC and its members look forward to helping implement its provisions.  We thank Senator Peters and Senator Ernst for their leadership on this important issue.”

“To effectively procure and leverage today’s most innovative and secure commercial technologies, the U.S. government must not settle for ‘business as usual,’” said Megan Petersen, Vice President of Policy, Public Sector, and Counsel at the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). “The bipartisan AGILE Procurement Act of 2022 takes a forward-thinking approach to purchasing by encouraging increased government and industry engagement while prioritizing the use of innovative contracting methods to purchase IT.”