PSC Opposes Change to Commercial Items Definition

Arlington, Va., April 20, 2012--The Professional Services Council yesterday expressed strong opposition to a Defense Department legislative proposal that would revise the governmentwide definition of the term "commercial item or service" under the federal procurement statutes.

In an April 19 letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., and Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., PSC explained that adopting DoD’s proposed changes could deny the government access to commercial products and services that companies provide to DoD and other federal agencies. DoD submitted the proposal as part of its second package of legislative proposals for the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.   

“From national and homeland security to health information technology and more, this proposal will place at risk some of the government’s most significant technology initiatives and could curtail the government’s access to some of the most transformative technologies in the market today, including cloud computing and tools for collecting and analyzing big data,” said PSC President and CEO Stan Soloway. 

Under current law agencies can procure services using streamlined commercial buying practices if they are “of a type" routinely made available in the commercial marketplace. The words “of a type” are important because they acknowledge that commercial items could be considered as such despite the fact that they may require modest modifications in order to meet the government’s requirements. 

“The current definition was the key that has enabled scores of companies that previously did not work with the government in any significant way to enter the market” Soloway said. “If this proposal passed, it could cause many of those that helped enhance the government’s competitive marketplace to exit it.”

“We urge the committee to exclude this provision from the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act,” Soloway said. 

PSC’s letter is available here.


About PSC: PSC has been the voice of the government professional and technical services industry for 40 years. PSC’s nearly 350 member companies represent small, medium, and large businesses that provide federal agencies with services of all kinds, including information technology, engineering, logistics, facilities management, operations and maintenance, consulting, international development, scientific, social, environmental services, and more. Together, the trade association’s members employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in all 50 states. Follow PSC on Twitter @PSCSpeaks and @StanSoloway.