Wartime Contracting Bill Contrary to Smart Contracting

Arlington, Va., March 1, 2012—The Professional Services Council today expressed strong concern that a Senate bill to address some of the recommendations of the 2011 Wartime Contracting Commission could actually hurt the government’s ability to respond to future contingency situations overseas and create more challenges than it addresses. 

“While we strongly support the bill’s attempts to professionalize the acquisition workforce and improve upfront government planning for contingency operations, we have deep concerns about provisions that lay waste to due process, fairness and transparency, and run contrary to smart government and smart contracting practices,” said PSC President and CEO Stan Soloway. “The inflexibility of many provisions in this bill could actually prevent agencies from efficiently and effectively meeting their missions in a fluid contingency environment.”

“This bill is largely a package to correct some contingency problems that arose during the last decade,” Soloway said. “If legislation is necessary to address those problems, it should seek to strengthen the mechanics, flexibilities and appropriate controls for contingencies. And while we strongly support thoughtful and balanced proposals to enhance and improve the ability of both government and industry to support our troops in a warzone, this bill falls far short of that goal.”

PSC’s areas of concern regarding S. 2139, introduced yesterday by Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., include: 

  • Denial of due process
        • The bill’s provisions would require the automatic suspension of a company on the basis of undocumented allegations of any wrongdoing by any employee, and would deny companies the basic tenets of due process. The Wartime Contracting Commission itself rescinded this recommendation in its final report. Further, the Obama administration and government suspension and debarment officials have strongly opposed this proposal as unfair, unwise and potentially detrimental to the government. 
        • The bill unfairly terminates a contractor’s right to respond to past performance evaluations and to have that response entered into the record. This provision goes well beyond what the Wartime Contracting Commission recommended and represents a stunning reversal of the longstanding tenets of fairness that underpin the government's past performance reporting process.
  • Inflexibility
  • A provision to limit subcontracts to one tier is unrealistic and would make it nearly impossible for the government to rapidly obtain the goods and services they need to support warfighters, aid workers, diplomats and others responding to a crisis overseas. 
  • Arbitrary limits on periods of contract performance would also add unnecessary levels of uncertainty, risk and cost in an already dynamic environment.

  • 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.