Lankford Offers Oklahoma Service Members’ Ideas to Modernize Federal Hiring and Contracting Processes

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Governmental Operations and Border Management, today introduced the Department of Defense (DOD) Improved Hiring Act and the Service Contract Modernization Act, two bills aimed at updating and modernizing federal hiring and contracting practices.

“I have engaged directly with Oklahoma military installations on ways we can improve their ability to get the best and brightest to support the missions of our Oklahoma service members,” said Lankford. “Oklahomans sent me to Washington to solve the issues we face. These straightforward, practical solutions for our military and federal agencies ensure we address inadequacies in our laws that are holding them back from completing their missions or serving Americans. I look forward to full consideration of these simple proposals in the days ahead.”

The DOD Improved Hiring Act would make permanent the direct hire authority of the Secretary of Defense for domestic defense industrial base facilities, the Major Range and Test Facilities Base, and the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. The current temporary authority has enabled Oklahoma military installations to fill critical operational needs where qualified candidates are otherwise not available, when projects are on a limited timeframe, or for assignments where the extensive formal hiring process is impractical.

DOD contracts are currently subject to the McNamara–O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), which was put in place in 1965 when the costs of goods and services were substantially less than today. SCA applies to all federal government contracts for service employees with a contract value over $2,500, including contracts for cafeteria or food services, security guard services, washing laundry, custodial and janitorial services, dry cleaning services, and computer services. Contracts above that threshold trigger a number of SCA requirements that include fringe benefits and other add-ons. That $2,500 threshold was likely a sufficient threshold in 1965, but it has not kept up with inflation. The Service Contract Modernization Act updates that threshold for government contracts before fringe benefits kick in from $2,500 to $21,000.