Freshman lawmaker and former Green Beret Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) plans to tackle the Defense Department’s cumbersome acquisition process and be a champion for small businesses working with the government as a new member in the 116th Congress, he said Feb. 6.
Speaking Wednesday at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Conference in Arlington, Virginia, Waltz, who is a new member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he can uniquely serve industry partners looking for support on government contracts due to his experience as a former Army Special Forces officer serving in Afghanistan, as an Afghanistan policy advise in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and a counterterrorism adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and as a small business owner.
“I don’t think it should be so darn hard to do business with your own government,” he said.
One issue he plans to tackle is the “disconnect” between command agencies that issue the requirements and the actual contract writers, he said. “They don’t often talk to each other, understand each other, incentivize in the same way,” he said. “When I was in OSD policy at the White House, I didn’t understand that dynamic, a lot of folks in Congress don’t understand that dynamic. I do, and it’s something that I’m going to take a hard look at.”
Waltz also wishes to develop an alternative to the current thresholds for small business opportunities that allows companies currently within the “business death zone” to have a chance to compete.
“You’re either a very tiny business, or you’re a massive business,” he noted. Some potential solutions include raising the threshold level for qualification as a small business, the creation of new or different categories, or at least one new “middle zone” qualification, he said.
“I’m not sure yet” what the answer will be, Waltz added. “But I do bring that perspective and I am asking those tough questions.”
Waltz ran for and won now-Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ seat in the 2018 midterm election. He is a member of the HASC Subcommittees for Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities and for Seapower and Projection Forces.