This week the House Armed Services Committee's bipartisan Defense Business Panel, on which Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) serves, released the report of its findings, Challenges to Doing Business with the Department of Defense: Findings of the Panel on Business Challenges in the Defense Industry. The Defense Business Panel was chaired by Congressman Bill Shuster (PA-09), with Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02) as its ranking member.
The report is the culmination of six months of work examining the current defense business climate to identify and streamline contracting and regulatory issues facing the defense industry. In completing its work, the Defense Business Panel met with or received testimony from more than 150 people representing government, industry, think tanks, and academia from around the country. The Panel traveled to Moline in early October 2011 and met near the Rock Island Arsenal, the largest government-owned weapons and manufacturing arsenal in the United States.
"I appreciate the opportunity to serve on this panel, and my thanks goes to Chairman McKeon, Congressman Schuster, and Congressman Larsen for recognizing the vital role the Rock Island Arsenal plays in our country's defense strategy," Schilling said. "Having a strong defense industrial base is an important part of our economy and our national security. I am hopeful that this Panel's conversation will go on, and that we continue to work closely with folks in the defense contracting community to stay in tune with what works, what doesn't, and what we can change to make the defense acquisition process easier for smaller contractors to navigate."
The report includes several key recommendations, including:
Requiring the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Service Secretaries, to develop a long-term strategy for maintaining a robust and effective defense industrial base.
Requiring the Secretary of Defense to develop policies and mechanisms to improve communication with industry to better enable industry to allocate independent R&D resources and make investments to meet the future needs of the Department.
Ensuring that work being reserved for small business performance is actually performed by small businesses.
Continuing to rebuild the breadth and depth of the defense acquisition workforce which will, in all likelihood, save money and improve acquisition outcomes.
Simplifying and streamlining the acquisition process by conducting a comprehensive review of the laws and regulations that govern the acquisition process in order to repeal or amend regulations that are outdated or have had unintended consequences that outweigh the original intent of the regulation.
In addition, the House Small Business Committee today approved the Building Better Business Partnerships Act, H.R. 3985, introduced by Schilling and Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32). Schilling's legislation, which was introduced in early February as part of the Committee's contracting reform initiative, would streamline the process for small businesses to participate in mentor-protégé programs, which pair new businesses looking to increase their government contracts with more experienced businesses. The bill will help all small businesses to more easily and more effectively contract with the federal government, enabling them to grow, create jobs, and get Americans back to work.
Schilling said "I've owned my own small pizzeria for more than 15 years, and understand how difficult and limiting some federal programs can be for small business owners to navigate and access. Contracting with the federal government is no different.
"I've heard from numerous job creators in my district about how valuable winning and retaining federal contracts are to growing their business and how the end result affects the men and women they employ. With unemployment over nine percent in Illinois, every initiative we can take to help businesses of all sizes grow, create jobs, and get folks back to work matters.
"I'm pleased this bill was approved by the Small Business Committee with unanimous bipartisan support, and am hopeful it gets through Congress and to the President for signature along with the rest of the Committee's contracting reform initiative to help level the playing field for small businesses in contracting."