The ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee is planning to introduce two Pentagon acquisition reform bills ahead of his committee’s markup of the fiscal year 2020 defense authorization act, including an effort to push the department to improve engagement with small- and mid-sized businesses.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters the two bills, one to push DoD to enact previously approved reforms and another to ease acquisition hurdles, will arrive a month before the HASC National Defense Authorization Act markup drops in June.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), House Armed Services Committee ranking member, speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 2015. Photo: CSIS

“One of them will be about implementing what we have already passed, and pushing that along. The second one will be related to innovation, especially small and mid-sized businesses,” Thornberry said.

Thornberry said he particularly wants DoD to improve its ability of doing business with “small, innovative, disruptive sorts of companies.”

“We make it too hard, and the incentives are just not there. Part of what I’m trying to focus on is how can we do more in that area, so that we can take advantage of the tremendous innovation that’s occurring in the private sector,” the ranking member said.

A second bill will push the Pentagon to address specific reforms in the previous NDAA that it has yet to enact, including addressing plans to save costs by making adjustments to its Fourth Estate offices, such as the Defense Information Systems Agency.

“It’s certainly a possibility that for Fourth Estate reforms we would look at things to push them along in the implementation,” Thornberry said. “We do have some sticks, and some carrots. We’re going to try put a mixture of those things together.”

Thornberry said the Pentagon missed a February deadline to address Fourth Estate reforms, and he planned to meet with department officials this week to discuss a plan moving forward.

Fencing in future funds is one potential option that may be included in the bill to push DoD toward enacting previously approved reforms.

Thornberry said he wants both pieces of legislation to arrive in May with enough time to potentially work similar provisions into the NDAA markup by June.