House attempt to streamline commercial buying runs into trouble in Senate

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The version of the annual Defense authorization bill being debated on the floor of the Senate this week sets up a potential conflict for one of the major acquisition reforms contained in the House’s version: An attempt to streamline and encourage the use of the Defense Department’s procedures for buying commercial goods and services.

The House version of the NDAA contains what’s arguably the biggest overhaul to DoD’s commercial buying practices in a quarter-century. Its proponents argue it would make it easier for contracting officers to use the simplified commercial purchasing rules that already exist in law by rewriting the definition of “commercial” to better reflect the state of the market.

And by recognizing that DoD now spends more on services than on products, it would differentiate between commercial goods and commercial services.

But the Senate’s version takes a much more cautious approach. Instead of making any substantive changes, it would merely require the Defense Department itself to submit a report on how its leaders believe commercial procurements should be reformed.

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