President Biden recently signed the PRICE Act (Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions Act). The Act expands opportunities for small businesses to work with the federal government and encourages identification and promotion of best practices for acquisition techniques and procurement practices. In this blog, we review the goals of the Act and its impact on the small business contracting community. The PRICE Act amplifies the role of federal small business contractors by encouraging the adoption of innovative procurement processes. The Act leaves the definition of small business procurement innovation largely undefined. However, it gives us five overarching goals:
- improving and encouraging competition,
- reducing time to award,
- achieving cost savings,
- achieving better mission outcomes, and
- meeting goals for contracts awarded to small business concerns.
The Act will also create a governmentwide council of leading procurement officials that will meet quarterly and submit a report to Congress detailing “innovative acquisition practices and applications of technologies that have worked well in achieving better procurement outcomes, including increased efficiency, improved program outcomes, better customer experience, and meeting or exceeding” Small Business Act goals. The Council will disband after publishing its report.
The Act received support from several industry groups, including the Small Business Majority, the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, GovEvolve, the HUBZone Contractors National Council, the Women Veterans Business Coalition, and Maryland’s Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.
While the PRICE Act seems to have legitimate intentions, it is not clear what it will actually accomplish. It could play out like the Section 809 Committee of 2018 and propose similarly outlandish recommendations that have no chance of ever becoming law. There is also speculation that the council could recommend greater use of commercial purchasing and expanded use of GSA Schedules, as procurement wonks have long dreamed. However, there are numerous obstacles to this approach, such as protecting competition and the public fisc as well as preventing corruption (which is built into federal law, with good reason). We shall just have to wait and see what “innovative” techniques the council proposes, but they almost certainly will entail some additional forms or rapid procurement ideas.
As the Council deliberates, PilieroMazza’s Government Contracts Group will work closely with our public sector partners to keep close tabs on the implications of the PRICE Act. For questions about the PRICE Act or other small business procurement reform efforts, please contact Cy Alba.