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Two of U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-Iowa) efforts aimed at improving federal procurement advanced in the Senate today. The measures include an effort to increase oversight of federal consulting contracts related to national security to prevent adversarial foreign influence and another to modernize our technology acquisition process.

Ernst’s Combating Obstructive National Security Underreporting of Legitimate Threats (CONSULT) Act passed the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) without objection.

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“America’s adversaries, like China and Russia, are aggressively working against our national security interests; so why then would we allow government contractors closely tied to these adversaries to advise our military and Pentagon officials? At the very least, this is a clear conflict of interest, but more seriously, it could pose a threat to our national security,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “It is critical to have safeguards in place to ensure these firms are not also conducting business with our adversaries, like China, which is exactly what the CONSULT Act does.”

In addition, an Ernst-backed bill, the Advancing Government Innovation with Leading-Edge (AGILE) Procurement Act passed the Senate HSGAC.

“As our federal government continues to utilize private consulting contracts more and more, we need to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly,” said Senator Ernst. “The AGILE Act moves our government away from costly contracting firms to highly specialized individuals and small businesses, a more effective and cost-efficient way to advance our technology goals.”

The CONSULT Act streamlines policies across government agencies to identify potential conflicts of interest within government contractors and permits those conflicts to disqualify firms from being awarded national security contracts. Specifically, this bill focuses on putting measures in place to prevent companies from holding contracts with the federal government while also working with countries like China, Iran, or Russia. The bill was spurred by reports that the consulting firm McKinsey was awarded federal government consulting contracts while working for the Chinese and Russian governments.

The AGILE Procurement Act modernizes and improves the efficiency of technology acquisition by the federal government through attracting and retaining qualified procurement professionals within federal agencies, and removes red-tape on high-tech small businesses who want to contract with the government.

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