WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, R- Me., along with Senators Daniel Akaka D-Hi., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., today introduced legislation that would make way for needed improvements to the federal acquisition system by training career contracting professionals. U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., introduced a companion bill in the House.

The Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act of 2011 would prompt reorganization, allowing the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) to fulfill its mission of aiding career development and maximizing the potential of the federal acquisition workforce.

"The federal acquisition system is under tremendous stress," said Senator Collins. "Between fiscal years 2000 and 2010, acquisition spending by the federal government expanded by 163 percent, from $205 billion to $535 billion. This level of spending requires professionally trained and invested acquisition personnel who can manage these huge expenditures while also guarding against the possibility of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars. The Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act would strengthen the FAI which promotes career development and strategic human capital management for the entire civilian acquisition workforce."

"Providing training for the government’s acquisition workforce leads to better outcomes that save taxpayer money," said Senator Akaka. "This bill will strengthen leadership and accountability at the Federal Acquisition Institute, our premier provider for government-wide acquisition training."

"A well-trained acquisition workforce is the first line of defense against contracting waste," Senator McCaskill said. "We desperately need people who are fully prepared to oversee contracts. Considering the vast amount of government work that is done through contracts and the fact that some contracts are worth billions of dollars, this is a great investment of our tax dollars."

"This legislation would make the federal government more efficient and saves tax dollars," Congressman Connolly said. "In the past decade federal procurement spending grew by 155 percent while the acquisition personnel managing that spending grew by just 10 percent. We just don’t have the workforce to manage large, complex contracts and the Federal Acquisition Institute is not meeting our training demands. This legislation, which I am proud to sponsor with Senator Collins, will build on the success of new models, like the one created by Veterans Affairs, and provide better value to the taxpayers."

The FAI has remained largely underused due to a lack of organizational clarity, the disproportionate funding compared to its counterpart in the Department of Defense, and its intermittent use by a few federal agencies.
The proposed legislation would establish a clear line of responsibility and accountability for the Institute by requiring that-
• FAI, through its Board of Directors, report directly to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP);
• The director of FAI be appointed by the OFPP Administrator, and report directly to the OFPP Associate Administrator for Acquisition Workforce;
• All existing civilian agency training programs follow guidelines issued by OFPP, which would ensure consistent training standards necessary to develop uniform core competencies; and
• The OFPP Administrator report annually to Congressional committees of jurisdiction projected FAI budget needs and expense plans to fulfill its statutory mandate.
FAI would be required to provide and keep current government-wide training standards and certification requirements including-
• Ensuring effective agency implementation of government-wide training and certification standards;
• Analyzing the curriculum to ascertain if all certification competencies are covered, or if adjustments are necessary;
• Developing career-path information for certified professionals to encourage retention in government positions; and
• Coordinating with the Office of Personnel Management for human capital efforts.