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House passes Defense Department authorization for 2015

May. 22, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
The House has passed the latest National Defense Authorization Act. (AFP)

The National Defense Authorization Act that passed by the House on May 22 would set limits on contract spending, push the Defense Department to insource certain jobs and withholds authorization for another round of base closures,

The extension of a cap on contract spending at DoD is necessary to make sure the Defense Department does not just shift work from civilian employees to contractors as it works to reduce costs and reorganize its workforce, according to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, who introduced the amendment.

Another provision forces DoD to eliminate any unauthorized personal services and contracts for any inherently governmental functions and reduce the spending on contractors for work close to being inherently governmental to “the maximum extent practicable.”

But requests by DoD for a base realignment and closures (BRAC) round for fiscal 2017 were rebuffed. Efforts to amend the legislation to include another BRAC round were defeated.

Other provisions in the NDAA include:

■A prohibition for DoD against purchasing biofuels except for testing purposes until the price per gallon is the same as traditional fuel. The Navy has been pushing biofuels as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fuel.

■A rule requiring DoD to determine which of its workforces – military, civilian or contractor – would be most cost-effective when determining work assignments for noncritical mission areas.

■The extension of a pilot program that allows whistleblowers to appeal cases from the Merit Systems Protection Board to any circuit court – instead of being restricted to the federal circuit court – for three more years.

Buck McKeon, R-Calif, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a press release the legislation was built after months of hard work, but included too many cuts and tradeoffs for the military and that the situation will only get worse.

“I fear these will leave our war fighters fewer tools to succeed. Nevertheless, this year we were able to hold off disaster. Unless something changes, the choices next year will be brutal,” McKeon said.

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