HR 1829 passes the House - Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) Competition in Contracting Act of 2003

November Friends:

Note last section of bill (Sec. 16) "Expresses the sense of Congress that it is important to study the concept of implementing a "good time" release program for nonviolent criminals in the Federal prison system."

This does not mean that good time will be increased - it only is a request that Congress consider it.

Do not stop gathering signatures on the Petition, and keep writing your federal leaders.

SUMMARY AS OF: 9/25/2003 - Reported to House, amended.  

Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act of 2003 -

(Sec. 2) Amends the Federal criminal code to replace provisions regarding the purchase of prison-made products by Federal departments with provisions establishing a Government-wide procurement policy relating to purchases from Federal Prison Industries (FPI), which shall generally require the use of competitive procedures.

(Sec. 3) Requires that an analysis of the probable impact of a proposed expansion of sales within the Federal market by FPI on private sector firms and their non-inmate workers be made whenever FPI proposes to authorize the sale of a new specific product or service or to expand production of a current product or service.

Prohibits FPI from furnishing construction services through inmate labor unless such services are to be performed within a Federal correctional facility pursuant to the participation of an inmate in an apprenticeship or other vocational education program teaching the skills of the various building trades.

Authorizes the FPI board of directors to authorize: (1) the donation of products produced or services furnished by FPI and available for sale; (2) the production of a new specific product or the furnishing of a new specific service for donation; or (3) a proposal to expand production of a currently authorized specific product or service in an amount in excess of a reasonable share of the market if a Federal agency has requested that FPI be authorized to furnish such product or service in amounts needed by such agency or if the proposal is justified for other good cause and supported by at least eight board members.

(Sec. 4) Requires a Federal agency having a requirement for a product that is authorized for sale by FPI and is listed in its catalog to first solicit an offer from FPI and make purchases on a noncompetitive basis. Requires, subject to specified limitations, a contract award to be made on a noncompetitive basis to FPI if the contracting officer determines that: (1) the FPI product will meet the procurement requirements; (2) timely performance of the contract by FPI can be reasonably expected; and (3) the negotiated price does not exceed a fair and reasonable price.

Directs that the terms and conditions of the contract and the price to be paid to FPI be determined by negotiation between FPI and the Federal agency making the purchase. Bars the negotiated price from exceeding a fair and reasonable price determined in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Prohibits the total dollar value of FPI sales to the Government in FY 2005 through 2009 from exceeding specified percentages of FPI sales for the base period. Sets limits regarding FPI sales within various business sectors, relating to specific products, and arising from changes in design specifications. Prohibits the use of such preferential contracting authorities on or after October 1, 2009. Requires the Attorney General to: (1) make a finding regarding the effects of such percentage limitations, including a determination whether such limitation has resulted or is likely to result in a substantial reduction in inmate industrial employment and whether such reductions, if any, present a significant risk of adverse effects on safe prison operation or public safety; and (3) advise the Congress upon finding a significant risk of adverse effects on either safe prison management or public safety.

(Sec. 5) Authorizes FPI to produce products as a subcontractor or supplier in the performance of a Federal procurement contract. Makes the use of FPI a voluntary business decision by the Federal prime contractor or subcontractor, subject to any prior approval imposed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation or by the contract. Prohibits such authority from resulting in the sale in the commercial market of a product or service resulting from the labor of Federal inmate workers and requires a contractor or subcontractor using FPI to implement appropriate management procedures to prevent it.

(Sec. 6) Requires: (1) the Board of Directors of FPI to prescribe the rates of hourly wages to be paid inmates performing work for or through FPI; and (2) the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to prescribe the rates of hourly wages for other work assignments within the various Federal correctional institutions, with increase determinations on not less than a biannual basis. Requires deductions of up to 80 percent of an inmate worker's wages for applicable taxes, payment of fines and restitution, support of the inmates' family, and to facilitate the inmate's assimilation back into society.

(Sec. 7) Includes services within the scope of a prohibition against transporting in interstate commerce or from a foreign country goods produced by prisoners. Authorizes any prisoner work program operated by a State or local jurisdiction of a State which is providing services for the commercial market on October 1, 2002, to continue to provide such commercial services: (1) until the expiration date specified in the contract on that date; (2) until September 30, 2005, if the prison work program is directly furnishing the services to the commercial market; or (3) after those dates if it has been certified and is in compliance with specified requirements.

(Sec. 10) Establishes within the Bureau the Enhanced In-Prison Educational and Vocational Assessment and Training Program, which shall provide: (1) in-prison assessments of inmates' needs and aptitudes; (2) educational opportunities; (3) vocational training and apprenticeships; and (4) release-readiness preparation. Authorizes appropriations. Directs that all components of the program be established in at least 25 percent of all Federal prisons within two years, 50 percent within four years, 75 percent within six years, and 100 percent within eight years.

Directs the Chief Operating Officer of FPI to develop proposals to have FPI donate products and services to eligible entities that provide products and services to low-income individuals who would likely otherwise have difficulty purchasing such products and services in the commercial market. Authorizes appropriations.

Establishes within the Bureau the Cognitive Abilities Assessment Demonstration Program to determine the effectiveness of a program that assesses the cognitive abilities and perceptual skills of Federal inmates to maximize the benefits of various rehabilitative opportunities to prepare each inmate for a successful return to society and reduce recidivism. Requires the Director to report to Congress on employment and residence stability and recidivism among inmates who participated in the program after 18 months of release. Authorizes appropriations.

Requires the Director to afford to inmates opportunities to participate in programs and activities designed to help them obtain employment upon release. Grants priority to inmates who are participating in work opportunities afforded by FPI and are within two years of release.

(Sec. 11) Provides that FPI shall be governed by a board of 11 directors. Makes the Director the Chief Executive Officer of FPI. Requires the Director to designate the Chief Operating Officer.

(Sec. 12) Authorizes FPI to: (1) locate more than one workshop at a Federal correctional facility; and (2) operate a workshop outside of a correctional facility if all of the inmates working in the workshop are classified as minimum security inmates.

(Sec. 13) Provides that any correctional officer or other FPI employee being paid with non-appropriated funds who would be separated from service because of a reduction in the net income of FPI shall be: (1) eligible for appointment (or reappointment) in the competitive service; (2) registered on a Bureau of Prisons reemployment priority list; and (3) given priority for any other position within the Bureau for which such employee is qualified.

(Sec. 14) Requires that the Board's annual report include: (1) an analysis of FPI's total sales to Federal agencies and the commercial market, total purchases by each Federal agency, and FPI's share of such total Government purchases by specific product and service, and of the number and disposition of disputes submitted to the heads of the Federal agencies; (2) an analysis of the inmate workforce that includes the number of inmates employed, the number utilized to product products or furnish services sold in the commercial market, the terms of their incarceration, and the wages paid; and (3) data concerning whether the employment provided by FPI during incarceration enabled inmates to earn a livelihood upon release. Directs that copies of the annual report be made available to the public at a price not exceeding printing cost.

(Sec. 15) Directs the Comptroller General to have an independent study conducted on the effects of eliminating the FPI mandatory source authority and to submit the results to Congress by June 30, 2004.

(Sec. 16) Expresses the sense of Congress that it is important to study the concept of implementing a "good time" release program for nonviolent criminals in the Federal prison system.

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