EPA's Use of Management Support Services

CED-82-36: Published: Mar 9, 1982. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) use of consulting services. GAO reviewed the broader spectrum of management support services procured under contracts, even though many of these contracts were not classified as consulting services by EPA and did not meet the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) definition of consulting services. GAO included these contracts in its review because the EPA use of consulting-type services may be significantly understated.

GAO determined that 46 percent of the contracts in its 1980 sample met its definition of management support services. GAO estimated that 5 percent of the EPA fiscal year 1980 procurement requests for management services were subject to required, independent internal review designed to provide limited management control over the EPA use of consulting services. EPA contractors may be performing work which should be performed by EPA employees, but GAO could not determine if the contractor's actions were improper because of the lack of criteria to distinguish between assistance and performance. GAO found that 88 percent of the service contracts identified were cost-plus-fixed-fee, which provide minimal incentives for contractors to effectively manage costs. Regulations provide that this type of contract is suitable for use when the level of effort required for the contract is unknown. Further, GAO found that EPA service contracts were modified extensively which can add to contract costs, expand the scope of work, or extend periods of performance. Of the 30 management support services contracts which GAO reviewed in detail, work products provided under 10 of the contracts appeared to be of questionable value to EPA. In addition, contracting officers' and project officers' written evaluations of contractor performance often were not prepared in accordance with agency procedures. In reviewing the performance of individual experts and consultants, GAO found that they were generally qualified and performed the tasks for which they were hired at a reasonable rate.

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