Congress Passes the National Defense Authorization Act
On August 1, the Senate passed the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 87-10, sending the defense bill to the president to sign into law. The bill includes the AGC-backed bipartisan legislation requiring federal agencies to publish their change orders policy and procedures on any small federal construction contract (see Sec. 855 of conference report). This legislation provides prospective federal construction contractors with the information they need to factor into their bids and offers the risk and resulting cost of delayed payment for change. Once signed into law, the changes will need to go through the rulemaking processes.
Some other notable provisions in the bill that are important to AGC members include:
- Sec. 816 - Inclusion of best available information regarding past performance of subcontractors and joint venture partners. This section allows for past performance ratings for each partner of a joint venture when awarding Department of Defense contracts.
- Sec. 880 - Use of lowest price technically acceptable source selection process. This section further limits federal agencies from using this process and requires agencies to adequately describe the minimum requirements for what amounts to “technically acceptable” in the procurement.
- Sec. 878 - Procurement administrative lead time definition and plan. Requires a government-wide definition of Procurement Administrative Lead Time (PALT) and requires federal agencies to work with the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration to develop a plan for measuring and reporting on PALT.
- Sec. 933, 934, 936 – Expediting the backlog of Security Clearances. These provisions are designed to expediate the backlog of nearly 700,000 background investigations and security clearances for agency and contract personnel. It will also require regular and transparent reports on the progress of these investigations.