Legislation aimed at steering at least a third of DHS contracts for frontline personnel equipment to American small businesses is now in the hands of the Senate for consideration.
The House passed by voice vote last week the Homeland Procurement Reform Act (HOPR Act), sponsored by Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Reps. Brian Mast (R-Pa.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. It was referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on June 11.
The bill requires that “to the maximum extent possible, not less than one-third of funds obligated in a specific fiscal year for the procurement of such covered items shall be covered items that are manufactured in part or provided in the United States by entities that qualify as small business concerns (as such term is described under section 3 of the Small Business Act).”
The Homeland Security secretary “shall ensure that covered items are purchased at a fair and reasonable price, consistent with the procedures and guidelines specified in the Federal Acquisition Regulation,” the bill text adds.
If the secretary determines that compliance with the one-third minimum “is impractical,” the House and Senate homeland security committees would have to be notified within 15 days with “an explanation relating to such determination and specifics regarding what percentage of covered items will be procured by small business concerns.”
Correa’s bill also includes a sense of Congress “that the Secretary should endeavor to ensure that the majority of covered items for a frontline operational component procured by the Department are manufactured in the United States by entities that qualify as small business concerns.”
Frontline components include body armor, head and eye/ears protection, environment-specific clothing and gear, shoes, uniforms, patches, bags, holsters, CBNR protective gear, and gas masks.
Correa, who leads the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security, said last week that the legislation is “a necessary step to ensure our DHS frontline personnel have access to domestically sourced, high-quality uniforms and equipment while allowing domestic small businesses to better compete for federal government contracts.”
“This is a critical step in helping our men and women in the field get the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs,” he added. “I am proud of this legislation and proud to say this bill protects our national security and helps small businesses.”