Insight by Palantir

FASA revisited: Precedents in commercial item preference

The conversation around procuring commercial items – and acquisition reforms meant to push the government in that direction – has been going on for at least 25 years, starting with the passage of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act in 1994.

In today’s panel, we discuss the renewed focus on commercial items, and there are a lot of contemporary reasons to do so. The Section 809 panel, for example, has devoted enormous attention to this topic as it prepares to deliver its final report. And Congress, for several years in a row, has granted a series of new authorities intended to simplify and encourage commercial buying within federal agencies.

In addition, in a key decision that set new legal precedents for the application of FASA, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled recently that the Army did not live up to the law’s mandates on procuring commercial items. The decision added teeth to FASA’s requirement that agencies buy commercial whenever it’s “reasonably practicable,” and define their requirements in ways that make it possible for commercial companies to compete.

What FASA Set Out to Solve

We’re trying to figure out how do we leverage, how do we buy, how do we move forward with the innovation that the commercial sector is generating. And, buying commercial items, for us, is the best way to be able to do that. We found that it saves time, it saves money, it reduces risk, it means we’re accomplishing the mission faster, easier and more effectively.

Commercial Solutions

These authorities were put in place by Congress primarily to move the acquisition system faster in reaction to what was then perceived as the impending great power threat.

Protest Issues and Training the Workforce

[On workforce training,] one of the innovations I stole from DHS was the notion of a reverse industry day. This is an event where industry comes in and talks, presents what the acquisition situation looks like from their point of view, how each a government action leads to a decision to compete, not to compete, how the way we frame something feeds back in the pricing or some of the other impacts.

Listen to the full show:

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