The U.S. Senate today adopted an amendment by Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act, reforming the Department of Defense (DoD) contracting process. This is the latest of ongoing efforts by Senator Collins, a co-sponsor of the legislation, to strengthen federal government contracting.

“Research, development, testing, evaluation, and procurement of increasingly complex weapon systems challenge the Pentagon’s ability to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” said Senator Collins. “The legislation, with this amendment, will strengthen the Department’s acquisition planning, increase and improve program oversight, and help prevent contracting waste, fraud, and mismanagement. Ultimately, it will help ensure that our military personnel have the equipment they need, when they need it, and that tax dollars are not wasted on programs doomed to fail.”

In fiscal year 2008, Pentagon contract spending reached $396 billion, approximately 74 percent of total federal contracting spending. The amendment would ensure that DoD applies uniform project management and tracking standards to reliably and consistently measure contract performance by requiring that contractors establish and use approved project tracking systems. The quality and timeliness of contractor’s reporting, in turn, will be taken into past performance consideration for new contracts. With the improved reporting requirements, both the government and the contractor will be able to improve oversight of programs, leading to better results.

According to the Government Accountability Office, 95 of the DoD’s largest weapons programs were over budget by a total of $295 billion and are behind schedule by an average of two years. The Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act strengthens DoD’s procurement process by requiring more upfront planning, increasing the acquisition workforce, and improved oversight of projects. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation this week. The bill must also pass the House of Representatives.