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IMPROVE Acquisition Act

For many years, we have witnessed waste in DOD's acquisition system spiral out of control, placing a heavy burden on both American taxpayers and on our men and women in uniform. Less frequently but still far too often, fraud and abuse creep into the system as well, as we saw so extensively in Iraq. 

In 2009, the Democratic-led Congress started the process to clean up wasteful defense spending by enacting bipartisan legislation that reformed the acquisition of weapon systems - which accounts for about 20% of our defense acquisition dollars. On April 28, the House passed the IMPROVE Acquisition Act (HR 5013)--building upon the work last year by addressing the remaining 80% of defense acquisition spending for services and other non-weapons items. The bill cleans up defense acquisition spending, saving taxpayers an estimated $27 billion a year and expediting the process to get the necessary equipment to our troops.

The bill cleans up waste, fraud and abuse in the defense acquisition system through four key common-sense reforms: building a better accountability system, improving the management of the acquisition workforce, creating an auditable financial management system at DOD, and expanding and strengthening the industrial base to enhance competition and gain access to more technology. Key provisions:

Building Accountability

The bill will build a better accountability system to make sure that we get the most value for every single taxpayer dollar spent on defense acquisition by:

  • Requiring DOD to create metrics with specific goals and standards so that we have a way to measure performance and hold everyone accountable, and so we can make sure that we are only rewarding excellence and success-- not poor performance.
  • Establishing a joint evaluation task force to make sure operational units get what they really need when equipment is purchased.
  • Creating a requirements process for the acquisition of services so we know what we need to buy before we buy it, and don't end up paying again for thousands of meals that are never eaten like we did in Iraq.

Strengthening the Acquisition Workforce

In 2009, we started an effort to expand the size of the acquisition workforce - with the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act (PL 111-84) and the FY 2010 Defense Appropriations Act (PL 111-118). This bill builds on that by adding to the quality of the workforce so that both military and civilian personnel get better training, better tools, and more opportunities to improve their performance and produce better outcomes by:

  • Rewarding excellence in performance through salaries, bonuses, promotions, and awards, so that the men and women of the procurement workforce have motivation to perform well.
  • Developing clear and attractive career paths for acquisition personnel so that high quality employees understand how to excel in their career and have a reason to stay in government.
  • Increasing training opportunities and recertification requirements so that we have the best of the best when it comes to knowledgeable personnel.
  • Strengthening the information technology portion of the workforce.

Improving Financial Management

The bill reforms DOD's financial management system to make it auditable so that American taxpayers know where their money is going and whether it is properly accounted for by:

  • Requiring DOD to develop meaningful consequences for success and failure in financial management in order to achieve a clean audit by September 2017.
  • Placing a higher priority on achieving best value for purchases rather than passing the money out the door to a contractor, meeting arbitrary benchmarks for spending.

Expanding the Industrial Base

The bill builds our industrial base to enhance competition and gain access to more technology by:

  • Establishing a program to identify and communicate with non-traditional suppliers and continually review the industrial base and identify markets of importance.
  • Creating a blue ribbon panel of businesses to provide recommendations for eliminating barriers to working with DOD so that new companies can enter the competition and provide better value for the dollar.
  • Requiring federal contractors, subcontractors, and grantees to disclose any delinquent tax debt so that businesses that aren't paying their taxes aren't rewarded with other people's tax dollars.
  • Creating an independent general counsel for the Defense Contract Audit Agency and empowering DOD auditors to compel the production of necessary audit documentation by withholding payments to contractors.