House Moves

By John Liang / April 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

We've all heard about Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) introducing legislation to reform the Defense Department's acquisition system. Well, now it's the turn of their colleagues on the other side of the Capitol dome.

Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and John Spratt (D-SC) introduced the exact same bill to the House yesterday.

"Our acquisition and contracting processes too often result in cost overruns and delays," Tauscher, chairwoman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said in a joint statement. "At a time when we are trying to restore the economy and find ways to reduce spending, or spend more efficiently, we have to rework how the Pentagon awards and monitors contracts."

For his part, Spratt, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in the same statement that there was "huge room for improvement in defense procurement," adding:

Our bill does not pretend to be a panacea, but it offers some solid, well considered ideas, which have been carefully researched. It’s a good piece of work, and I am glad to sponsor it along with Senators Levin and McCain, and my colleague in the House, Rep. Ellen Tauscher.

As reported yesterday:

With the Senate expected this week to weigh in on new legislation geared toward revamping the Pentagon's troubled acquisition process, lawmakers are hammering out the final details before Thursday's vote, one of the bill's cosponsors said today.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said discussions have been held in recent weeks about specific elements of the bill ahead of Thursday's anticipated vote on the measure. While the Michigan Democrat noted that no significant push-back against the legislation has been seen, he said some on Capitol Hill have expressed concerns over the measure.

Levin's comments came during a briefing with reporters today in Washington.

In February, Levin and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican John McCain (AZ) introduced legislation calling for the creation of new posts within DOD to oversee cost assessments and developmental testing on current and future military weapon systems.

The Levin-McCain bill also calls for significantly strengthening the certification mandates for programs that violate cost-growth limits under the Nunn-McCurdy statute.

A similar version of the bill sponsored by Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) is being mulled over on the House side. The companion House proposal was expected to be introduced last week, a Democratic aide told, adding that it would be “very, very close” to the mandates outlined in the Levin-McCain legislation.

Tauscher's bill is under review by House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-SC) and is expected to be introduced sometime this month, the aide said.

During the ensuing debate in the Senate over the Levin-McCain bill, some senators had questioned language in the legislation calling for a ban on defense firms conducting progress assessments on major weapon systems being manufactured by the same company, Levin said. . . .