Thornberry Releases Acquisition Reform Bill

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) released the text of a bill aimed at reforming the military acquisition system on May 18. The bill would allow the Department of Defense to save money and time by purchasing commercial-off-the-shelf items in online marketplaces, instead of using the GSA system or writing a new contract, according to the text of the bill, which was first posted by Politico. In terms of major program acquisition, Thornberry’s bill includes provisions to force DOD to consider sustainment costs earlier in the development of new systems. It places time limits on incurred cost audit reports and allows DOD to use private contractors to perform the audits. It also would create a new Office of Intellectual Property at the Pentagon, including a “cadre of intellectual property experts” to advise the Department on particular acquisition projects. The bill prioritizes data analysis for the development of service contracts and increases the accessibility and sharing of data between the services and the office of the Secretary of Defense. It requires the use of “common data enterprise structures” across the department. Test and evaluation would be reformed by requiring the use of “automated test methods and tools, modeling and simulation tools, and big data analytics technologies.” The bill also focuses on civilian workforce improvements, including a requirement for a study of financial incentives for program managers.