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U.S. Congress senate.

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON

GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
UNITED STATES SENATE

NINETY-SEVENTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION

PART 3

DOING BUSINESS WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

83-821 O

JULY 2, 1981

KANSAS CITY, MO.

Printed for the use of the Committee on Governmental Affairs

U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

WASHINGTON: 1981

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

WILLIAM V. ROTH, JR., Delaware, Chairman

CHARLES H. PERCY, Illinois

TED STEVENS, Alaska

CHARLES MCC. MATHIAS, JR., Maryland
JOHN C. DANFORTH, Missouri
WILLIAM S. COHEN, Maine

DAVID DURENBERGER, Minnesota
MACK MATTINGLY, Georgia

WARREN B. RUDMAN, New Hampshire

THOMAS F. EAGLETON, Missouri
HENRY M. JACKSON, Washington
LAWTON CHILES, Florida
SAM NUNN, Georgia

JOHN GLENN, Ohio

JIM SASSER, Tennessee
DAVID PRYOR, Arkansas
CARL LEVIN, Michigan

JOAN M. MCENTEE, Staff Director

IRA S. SHAPIRO, Minority Staff Director and Chief Counsel

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CHRISTOPHER R. BREWSTER, Chief Counsel and Staff Director

PATRICIA A. OTTO, Chief Clerk

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OVERSIGHT OF THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT

SYSTEM

THURSDAY, JULY 2, 1981

U.S. SENATE,

SUBCOMMITTEE ON FEDERAL EXPENDITURES,

RESEARCH, AND RULES,

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS,

Kansas City, Mo.

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, in Kansas City, Mo., in the Jackson County Legislative Chambers, Jackson County Courthouse, Hon. John C. Danforth (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Senator Danforth.

OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR DANFORTH

Senator DANFORTH. The U.S. Government is the world's largest consumer. Each year it buys anywhere from $100 billion to $125 billion worth of goods and services.

But selling to the Federal Government is no simple task. Some 4,000 statutory provisions govern procurement. Specifications for products the Government wants to buy are sometimes so detailed and outdated that the Government finds itself seeking bids for products no commercial manufacturer makes. Contractors who do sell to the Government often find that they get more than they bargain for. Auditors inquire into hiring practices, wage scales, and the like. And when the time comes for the Government to pay the bill, frequently, the Government ends up telling the contractor, "The check is in the mail." A General Accounting Office_survey back in 1978 concluded that as many as 40 percent of the Government's bills were not getting paid on time.

The rules and regulations that entangle the Federal procurement system do more than simply aggravate the people who try to do business with the Federal Government. They cost the taxpayers money. The complexities of the procurement system discourage people from doing business with the Government. That means less competition for Government work and higher prices. And the Government's propensity for writing detailed specifications for Government work, telling businesses how to build products instead of just telling businesses what it wants to buy-that costs money, too, driving up costs as businesses strive to customize products to Government specifications. It also keeps the Government from taking advantage of new product innovations, new technologies. Poor training of Government procurement officers often means the Government isn't doing a good job of bargaining for the products it does buy. That also costs money.

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