Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) recently introduced the Reforming Federal Procurement of Information Technology (“RFP-IT”) Act. This Act is similar in many ways to earlier drafts of the FITARA bill on which we have previously reported, with a few notable differences. Among other things, the RFP-IT Act would:
- significantly increase the Simplified Acquisition Threshold for the purchase of IT services from small business concerns to $500,000;
- create a “Digital Service Pilot Program” which would “provide digital service experts to support executive agencies on high-priority Federal information technology projects”;
- establish a new, high-level Digital Government Office to coordinate Federal IT policy and to partner with agencies to address high-risk or failing IT projects;
- codify the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, with the goal of improving the quality of solicitations issued for IT procurements by “bridg[ing] the gap between the private sector and the public sector by bringing non-Government innovators into the Government to work collaboratively for a period of time with Government innovators in order to rapidly solve challenges of national importance”;
- require that the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) be revised “to clarify that agency acquisition personnel are permitted and encouraged to engage in responsible and constructive exchanges with industry, so long as those exchanges are consistent with existing law and regulation and do not promote an unfair competitive advantage to particular firms”;
- utilize controversial “commodity” language to describe some information technology; and
- add the Small Business Administrator to the FAR Council, which sets federal procurement policy.
This bill follows the recent pattern of many Congressional iterations of legislation aimed at improving federal procurement policy, and, although the prospects of passage of this specific bill are unclear, it typifies some of the post-FITARA reform ideas that are gaining ground in Congress.