The House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday approved several bills including one aimed at strengthening acquisition oversight within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act (H.R. 4228) would require the department to apply its existing acquisition directives consistently across its components, something it doesn’t do now.United States Capitol

The bill passed unanimously by voice vote, just as it did in a subcommittee markup in March (Defense Daily, March 26). Wednesday’s markup follows the release on Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office of a report that says DHS has taken steps to improve its acquisition oversight based on previous GAO recommendations but still has more work to do here.

The report by the congressional auditors says that funding instability in major acquisition programs has been a factor in schedule delays, cost growth and reduced capabilities. It also says that DHS has acknowledged that the funding required for its major acquisition plans exceeds the resources it is likely to get.

During the committee’s markup on Wednesday, members unanimously approved by voice vote a set of amendments offered en bloc by ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) meant to ensure the department does a better job with suspending and debarring contractors that have committed waste, fraud or abuse. Thompson said his amendment would require that contracting personnel are trained to utilize and access the suspension and debarment system and that they consult the government-wide list of suspended and debarred companies. The amendment would also prohibit DHS from awarding contracts and grants to individuals or businesses that have been suspended and debarred.

A related amendment offered by Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) and approved unanimously by voice vote would require the DHS Inspector General to review suspension and debarment actions to ensure criteria is evenly applied to all contractors doing business with the department. The review would also include awards of grants and contracts to see if any have been improperly awarded.

Other bills marked up by the committee include the reauthorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 4007) and the Integrated Pubic Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2013 (H.R. 3283).