IPOA Opposes IMPROVE Act Amendment

IPOA Opposes IMPROVE Act Amendment to End Best Value Competitions
Stability Operations Trade Association Advocates For Use of “Best Value” in Defense Procurement

Washington, DC – On April 27, 2010, IPOA, the Association of the Stability Operations Industry, sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Members of the House Armed Services Committee urging them to oppose a proposed amendment to H.R. 5013 – Implementing Management for Performance and Related Reforms to Obtain Value in Every Acquisition Act of 2010 (IMPROVE Act of 2010). The association asked the congressional leaders to reject an amendment entitled “Requirement that Cost or Price to the Federal Government Be Given at Least Equal Importance as Technical or Other Criteria in Evaluating Competitive Proposals for Defense Contracts.” IPOA fully supports the IMPROVE Act’s goal of more efficiently procuring services to support the Department of Defense. However, the amendment would effectively hamstring the ability of contracting officers to use discretion in awarding contracts and sets the stage for compulsory acceptance of the cheapest offer, minimizing other factors such as experience, quality or past performance.

IPOA cited an October 1, 2009 report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting entitled “Lowest-price security not good enough for war-zone embassies,” in which the Commission noted the dangers of focusing on price as the determinative factor when selecting contractors for the Department of State. The Commission noted that statutory requirements to select the lowest price do more harm than good. In fact, the Commission recommended that the provision be eliminated and that the Department of State be given the flexibility to use a best value award process. The House amendment currently under consideration would move the Department of Defense closer to a statutory “low price” award scheme and would go against the clear recommendation of the Commission.

“Forcing the government to contract essential services on the cheap is not a recipe for success,” said Doug Brooks, IPOA President, “if we’ve learned anything over the past nine years it is that cutting corners on oversight or quality in contracting can have dire consequences.” Brooks noted that IPOA supports the concept of “best value” in federal procurements and believes the amendment’s “one size fits all” approach is ill advised.

Brooks further noted that IPOA believes it is unwise to require cost to be considered the ultimate driver in federal procurement, for doing so simply creates a “race to the bottom” where other qualifications are not given due consideration. “We believe that the proposed amendment will result in more contract defaults, poor performance and an overall decrease in the quality of goods and services provided to the services.”

IPOA was founded in 2001 to reflect a clear recognition that the private sector can play a larger, more cost-effective role in fundamentally improving peace and stability operations worldwide. With more than 60 members, IPOA is the leading voice of the stability operations industry.