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Federal Prison Industries (FPI) Reform Bill Pending

July 11, 2002
Federal Prison Industries (FPI) Reform Bill Pending

The ACSM had a victory in April, when H.R. 1577, the Federal Prison Industries (FPI) Competition in Contracting Act of 2001 made it out of the Judiciary Committee markup session with no harmful amendments added to it. After we heard rumors that amendments would be introduced which would expand FPI and allow it to provide products and services in the commercial market, the ACSM lobbied heavily to keep the bill as it was. Under the bill's provisions, federal agencies are required to solicit from FPI an offer for the purchase of a product or service FPI is authorized to provide, if the price is expected to exceed the micro-purchase threshold.

The resulting contracting must be awarded competitively unless a determination is made by the attorney general that FPI cannot reasonably expect to win the contract on a competitive basis and the contract is necessary to maintain work opportunities otherwise unavailable at the penal or correctional facility at which the contract is to be performed to prevent circumstances that could reasonably be expected to endanger the safe and effective administration of the facility.

However, the contract must be awarded to FPI if the contracting officer determines that FPI's product or service meets the requirements of the procuring activity in terms of quality or performance, delivery and cost.

On April 24, the bill picked up four more co-sponsors: Representatives Stenholm, Oxley, Dingell and Conyers, bringing its total to 131 co-sponsors. Assuming this bill passes the full House of Representatives, it will probably be added into the Senate Department of Defense Appropriations bill when it comes up for a vote.

On May 23, a strategy meeting was held on Capitol Hill regarding HR 1577, the Federal Prison Industry Reform Bill. Laurence Socci attended the meeting on behalf of ACSM. The Bill is expected to come to the full House floor any day now and faces opposition by several Members. ACSM is working with other members of COFPAES to keep out amendments that would be harmful to COFPAES members.

As part of the strategy meeting, which was hosted by Representative Hoekstra, a co-sponsor of the bill, it was determined that the different organizations supporting HR 1577 should lobby individual members to get their support of the bill. Laurence Socci drafted a letter for ACSM to fax to key members of Congress showing its support of the bill. Additionally, Laurence Socci met with staff of Members of Congress to voice support.