NDAA Moves to Conferees

October 11, 2017

House and Senate Conferees are expected to begin work in the coming weeks hammering out a compromise on their respective National Defense Authorization Acts for FY 2018. The Senate version passed Sept. 18 and the House version passed in July, both with broad bipartisan support. Both bills include provisions aimed at improving the federal marketplace for small businesses.

Among the various proposals that would impact small firms in the federal marketplace, the Senate and House bills would:

  • Enable the administration to conduct public-private competitions that could outsource more work to government contractors;
  • Shift some costs of the protest system to the private sector when large companies file a protest and are denied;
  • Establish procedures for enhanced debriefings for non-winning bids;
  • Require protests to be resolved within a maximum of 100 days;
  • Expand the restrictions on the Department of Defense’s (DoD) use of Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source selection criteria;
  • Establish and clarify worker safety requirements for federal contractors (essentially revising the since-repealed Obama-era “blacklisting rule” whereby OSHA violations would be considered by contracting officers);
  • Increase transparency in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) small business goals by requiring the SBA report two new pieces of information – the value of contracts credited to each goal if the contract is performed by a company that is no longer small or no longer qualified for that procurement program, and secondly, the SBA must report the value of contracts credited to each small business goal if a set aside or sole source program for a different program is used for the award; and
  • Harmonize language used by the SBA and the Federal Acquisition Regulations within the Small Business Act

Although it remains to be seen which of these provisions will be included in the final version of the NDAA passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, the Senate and House versions both contain notable reforms that could improve how small firms do business with the federal government. While both versions include varying spending levels, both well above President Trump’s requested budget, and a number of differing proposals, the two provisions are very similar. A conference report on the NDAA is expected by December, when the current continuing resolution expires and Congress must pass this and other critical spending measures.

NSBA supports transparency and predictability in the federal contracting and procurement process. In addition to providing necessary funding to the Department of Defense, the NDAA has historically been an invaluable catalyst for change in the government contracting and procurement processes and leveling the playing field for small-business contractors. NSBA is pleased that the NDAA bills contains a package of bipartisan, small business federal contracting and entrepreneurial development programs that will be instrumental to small companies.


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