Department of Defense’s Confession: Declining Competition
September 16, 2014
By: Lindsay Simmons
The Under Secretary of the Department of Defense recently issued a memorandum admitting what many of us have long suspected: “Over the past four years, the Department has not met its competition goals. In fact, we have experienced a declining competition rate, and we must take action to reverse this trend.” acq.osd.mil/USA004313-14-ATL.
The memo leads by recognizing that “[c]ompetition is the most valuable means we have to motivate industry to deliver effective and efficient solutions for the Department of Defense (DoD). When we create and maintain a competitive environment, we are able to spur innovation, improve quality and performance, and lower costs for the supplies and services we acquire.”
The solutions proposed to address the declining competition in DoD procurements include:
- Collaborate and address progress at DoD Business Senior Integration Group meetings;
- Issue "Guidelines for Creating and Maintaining a Competitive Environment for Supplies and Services in the Department of Defense" Competition Guidelines;
- Publish a "DoD Competition Handbook, A Practical Guide for Program Managers" in September 2014;
- Require contracting officers to use Requests for Information or Sources Sought notices before soliciting non-competitive acquisitions that cite FAR 6.302-1 - "Only One Responsible Source" and include the results of this inquiry in the Justification and Approval (J&A) document; and
- Amend DoD procedures for completing non-competitive J&A documents. Currently DoD does not track plans or actions taken to remove barriers to competition and, therefore, approval authorities never learn whether non-competitive acquisitions are continued in subsequent acquisitions of the item and, if so, why. DoD will now require follow-on acquisitions of the same supply or service to include the previous J&A as part of the approval package in order to determine if the planned actions cited in the prior J&A were completed.
In closing, the Under Secretary states that “[g]iven the declining trend in competition in the Department and in light of today's limited resources, we must maximize our use of direct and indirect competition. Every dollar saved through competition benefits the Warfighter and the taxpayers.” Let’s see what happens. Is this rhetoric or will these new policies have teeth?
Lindsay Simmons is responsible for the contents of this article.
© Jackson Kelly PLLC 2014