Congress includes Section 809 findings into acquisition reform bill

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David Drabkin, chair of Section 809 Panel and Mike Madsen, executive director of Section 809 Panel, discuss the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act and how their reform recommendations may make it into the draft bill.


As debate begins for the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, the House Armed Services Committee looks to mark up its version of the bill by the end of this week. HASC Chair Mac Thornberry laid out his NDAA priorities in two bills, each with a focus on acquisition reform. Notably, the bill incorporates many of Section 809 panel’s suggestions from their January report to Congress.

“Those things which he picked up are commercial buying, changing the definitions of commercial items, splitting it into goods and products, and then services, and he picked up some of our recommendations with regard to a pivot in how we deal with small businesses,” said David Drabkin, chair of Section 809 Panel. “He is also very interested in a proposal we’ve made that’s consistent with his campaign to declutter Title 10. Which is basically to reorganize Title 10 so that all of the acquisition provisions are in one place… It will be the first time, if he’s successful in doing this, that there’s a single place for acquisitions since 1947.

Mike Madsen, executive director of Section 809 Panel, thinks that this decluttering is the best way to streamline military acquisition.

“We have gone through and found 100 provisions that have expired on their own or obsolete for other reasons, and we have recommended repeal,” Madsen said. “This allows the practitioner to get to the provisions that do apply much more quickly… It allows them to get right to where they need to go quickly. Also, for the public-sector folks, the innovative companies that are trying to get to the market, than the direction to do that will be much easier.