(Washington, DC) — The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), through its member company, ViON today expressed strong objections to the current rewrite of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 15. In testimony before the House Committee on Small Business, ViON President Tom Frana, stated that the FAR 15 rewrite, if implemented, would severely limit the ability of small companies to compete for contracts in the $200 billion federal marketplace, would result in the abandonment of the full and open competition standard, and would likely increase costs to taxpayers.

The FAR 15 rewrite is another in the federal government’s purported efforts to streamline its operations, improve efficiency and eliminate some of the formal and cumbersome procedures related to purchasing goods and services from the private sector. However in his testimony, Frana urged committee members to carefully review the proposed rewrite which “goes too far…elevates efficiency over fairness…is contrary to the intent of Congress…[and] will allow contracting officers the discretion to funnel contract awards on a partisan or personal basis.” Frana explained that ViON, CCIA and the Full and Open Competition Coalition support the intent of the government’s efficiency efforts, but not at the expense of full, fair and open competition.

At issue are provisions in the FAR 15 rewrite granting federal agencies carte blanche authority to restrict the number of companies which can submit bids for a contract award on the grounds of “efficient competition” — based on factors such as “market research and historical data.” Frana queried what these criteria could mean for the small business that may not be included in such market research. “Is [this] the old ‘can’t get a job without experience and can’t get experience without a job’ problem?” he asked.

Since the procedures outlined in FAR 15 will affect at least 60-percent of the $200 billion spent by the government on procurement contracts, Frana noted that the new regulations offer no opportunity for the review of a contracting officer’s decision to prevent abuse of that authority. “All of this amounts to full, unfettered discretion vested in the contracting officer without the appropriate guidelines and checks within the system to ensure that fairness remains above efficiency,” he said. Fairness, Frana argued, promotes a healthy mix of competition which will produce for the government and taxpayers — the best competitive price.

ViON is a hardware vendor and systems integrator which sells exclusively to the federal government. ViON is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and CCIA. All of the organizations are members of the Full and Open Competition Coalition.

CCIA is an association of computer and communications industry firms, as represented by their most senior executives. Small, medium or large in size, CCIA’s members include equipment manufacturers, software developers, telecommunications and on-line service providers, re-sellers, systems integrators, third-party vendors and other related business ventures. Our member companies employ well over a half-million workers and generate annual revenues of nearly $200 billion.

CCIA’s mission is to further its members’ business interests by being the leading industry advocate in promoting open, barrier-free competition in the offering of computer and communications products and services worldwide. CCIA’s motto is “Open Markets, Open Systems, Open Networks, and Full, Fair and Open Competition.”

The Full and Open Competition Coalition is comprised of: Associated Builders and Contractors, American Gear Manufacturers Association, American Small Business Association, Association of General Contractors of America, American Subcontractors Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association, Household Goods Forwarders Association, Minority Gusiness Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Association of Surety Bond Producers, Small Business Roundtable, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

[NOTE: Tom Frana’s testimony will be delivered before the House Committee on Small Business at 1:00 pm today (April 10, 1997). For additional copies of Mr. Frana’s remarks, contact Mark Lewis @ CCIA — 202/783-0070]