WASHINGTON – United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chair Mary Landrieu, D-La., wrote today to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and Ranking Member John McCain in support of the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act of 2009, which was marked up this morning. Specifically, Sen. Landrieu indicated her support for Section 205, “Organizational Conflicts of Interest in the Acquisition of Major Weapon Systems,” and Section 203, “Maximization of Competition Throughout the Life Cycle of Major Defense Acquisition Programs,” which would increase meaningful opportunities for small businesses to compete for Department of Defense (DoD) projects.

Currently, the DoD procurement process sometimes lacks independent or objective analyses to determine the best firm for a particular contract. In her letter, Sen. Landrieu cited an example in which a small business was nearly put out of business because the DoD disregarded a conflict of interest when making a contracting decision. With the help of the Small business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, the company, NavSys, developed technology for a GPS navigation system for the Air Force, which the government found helpful. When the Air Force began to transition the technology into its GPS program, it asked the Prime contractor to assess whether the technology should be used. The Prime contractor, however, had a conflict of interest in determining whether the small business should get the contract or the Prime contractor should do it themselves. The Prime contractor ultimately decided to do it themselves.

“Small businesses are too often overlooked or harmed by the federal government’s contracting process,” Sen. Landrieu said today. “Sections 205 of the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act will go a long way toward protecting small businesses from conflicts of interest while eliminating waste and inefficiency at the DoD. Section 203 of the bill would also help to maximize competition for defense acquisition contracts, which will help small businesses because it creates more potential opportunities for them to participate,” Sen. Landrieu said. 

Please click here to view Sen. Landrieu’s letter to Sens. Levin and McCain.