Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced bipartisan legislation on July 27 that aims to cut through clutter in Federal government technology acquisition, and to beef up the government’s ranks of IT-related tech procurement specialists.

The AGILE Procurement Act would require the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the General Services Administration to streamline the ability of the Federal government to purchase commercial technology, and provide specific training to improve IT-related acquisition.

The senators said their bill intends to modernize and boost innovation in the procurement process, and increase opportunities for small businesses that want to contract with the Federal government.

“Recent technological advancements have greatly increased the Federal government’s need to acquire new technologies and retain qualified procurement professionals to serve taxpayers effectively,” said Sen. Peters in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure businesses can provide innovative solutions to the Federal government’s most pressing challenges and compete on a level playing field to win Federal contracts.”

However, the rise in technological advancements also has brought about challenges that have made the procurement process difficult to manage and navigate for companies hoping to do business with the Federal government. The bill would create a working group to reduce barriers to government contracting for businesses.

On the workforce front, the legislation would establish a new pilot program to onboard more junior and mid-career acquisition professionals into Federal procurement roles.

“The Federal government should be focused on recruiting and retaining skilled procurement specialists within our government agencies, not wasting federal dollars on outsourcing work to costly government contractors.” Sen. Ernst said. “By redirecting efforts to acquire the properly equipped professionals and removing the red tape on high-tech small businesses, we will see a more effective and less costly implementation of our advanced technology goals.”

The bill also would facilitate the government-wide expansion of an existing Defense Department program that incentivizes employee stock ownership plans as a means to promote business growth and sharing of company equity with employees.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.