WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to modernize the way the federal government acquires technology. 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 timely purchase new technologies.
“Recent technological advancements have greatly increased the federal government’s need to acquire new technologies and retain qualified procurement professionals to effectively serve taxpayers,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure businesses are able to provide innovative solutions to the federal government’s most pressing challenges and can compete on a level playing field to win federal contracts.”
“The federal government should be focused on recruiting and retaining skilled procurement specialists within our government agencies, not wasting federal dollars on outsourcing work to costly government contractors,” said Senator Ernst. “By redirecting efforts to acquire the properly equipped professionals and removing red-tape on high-tech small businesses, we will see a more effective and less costly implementation of our advanced 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 Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, the Information Technology Industry 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.
“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.”