The Simplified Acquisition Pilot Authority, which began in 1994, allows agencies to employ the simplified acquisition procedure described by FAR Part 13 for purchases of commercial goods (and only commercial goods) in excess of the ordinary simplified acquisition threshold. Since 1994, it’s been renewed every two years, and with each renewal, the test program threshold has crept upward.
The test program was last renewed in October of 2009, extending it until January 1, 2012. The simplified acquisition threshold for ordinary expenditures under the test program was increased from $5 million to $6.5 million and the threshold for emergency expenditures (purchases of commercial goods “to support contingency operations or to facilitate defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack”) was raised from $10 to $12 million.
How much the program was actually utilized by contracting officers before it expired is in dispute. A Department of Defense 2007 Competition Report reported that the test program was used effectively by the Navy to “streamline the acquisition process and maximize savings in time and money.”
Proponents believe the loss of the test program rescinds contracting officers’ ability to use procedural discretion and flexibility, so that commercial item acquisitions in this dollar range could be solicited, offered, evaluated, and awarded in a simplified manner.
Others believe that agencies use General Services Administration Federal Supply Schedules or other multiple award contracts for acquiring many of the goods that they could acquire under the pilot program.