Several members of the House Homeland Security Committee, including Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), on Thursday introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming acquisition management at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The 52-page DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act (H.R. 4228) would give authority to the under secretary for management, who is also the chief acquisition officer in DHS, to approve, halt, modify or cancel major acquisition programs.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Many of the bill’s provisions are already contained in DHS acquisition guidelines, which are not uniformly administered across the department.

Additional provisions contained in the legislation include requiring every major acquisition program to have an approved Acquisition Program Baseline document, codifying the Acquisition Review Board and requiring it to validate key cost, schedule and performance objectives and documents, requiring a multi-year acquisition strategy to be included in every Future Years Homeland Security Program, require DHS to submit quarterly to Congress major acquisition programs that fail to meet cost, schedule or performance metrics, direct the department to streamline the acquisition process and address issues regarding bid protests without adding new offices or programs, and eliminate duplication.

“It is unacceptable that the acquisition management programs at DHS have been on the GAO’s (Government Accountability Office) ‘high-risk list’ for fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement for nearly a decade,” McCaul said in a statement. “As the federal government’s third largest agency, DHS must improve, and this bipartisan legislation will increase oversight, require greater accountability, clarify the buying and selling process for industry and ultimately save taxpayer dollars.”

The new bill comes on the heels of comments made this week by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that he intends to review the acquisition processes at DHS to ensure that it is more responsive to strategy (Defense Daily, March 11). He also plans to look at how requirements are generated and platforms and people are sustained.

Joining McCaul in introducing the bill were Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).