The District Is Working To Increase Competition and Ensure Reasonable Prices for Supply and Service Contracts

GGD-84-33: Published: Apr 26, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1984.

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GAO reviewed 19 year-end procurements conducted by the District of Columbia to evaluate the District's procurement policies and regulations.

GAO found that the District made contract awards in 13 of the 19 procurements without competition, despite regulations that require that competition be obtained to the maximum practicable extent. Six of the contracts that were awarded without competition were formally advertised and seven were negotiated. GAO believes that, while the year-end contracting rush may have contributed to problems, inadequate regulations and enforcement were the underlying causes of the identified problems. The reasons the District did not obtain adequate competition included: (1) unnecessary brand name specifications; (2) use of the public exigency exception without adequate evidence that an urgent need existed; (3) limited efforts to identify potential sources; and (4) inadequate coordination between procuring agencies and the District agency that processes and regulates procurement actions. In addition, GAO found little evidence to indicate that the District determined that contract prices were reasonable. GAO noted that the District has taken steps to improve its procurement policies and regulations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Administrative Services modified its procurement reporting system to include a column which shows the number of bids solicited, rejected, and received.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should require the Director of Administrative Services to modify the current procurement reporting system to include both the number of bids received and the number disqualified for each formally advertised award. The procurement staff should use the report data to monitor trends on the extent of competition obtained and to identify, investigate, and work with user agencies to correct underlying causes of unfavorable trends.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The proposed rule amendment was never published because D.C. Law 6-85 requires revision of the current District procurement regulations to comply with the act. Temporary procedures were implemented, which provide for the preparation of a determination and findings for all proposed procurements over $10,000. These procedures will be incorporated into the revised procurement regulations.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should require the Director of Administrative Services to establish and enforce procurement policies and regulations which require District agencies, before they solicit contract proposals, to submit to Administrative Services written justification for waiving the requirement to formally advertise a procurement action and to adequately justify public exigency as authority to negotiate.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The proposed rule amendment intended to implement this recommendation was never published. Section 312 of D.C. Law 6-85 specifies procedures to be followed regarding emergency procurements. These procedures will be incorporated into revised procurement regulations, but the revision is not expected to be completed before January 1987.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should require the Director of Administrative Services to establish and enforce procurement policies and regulations which require District agencies to adequately justify public exigency as authority to negotiate. The regulations should stipulate that, before Administrative Services authorizes negotiation, the user agency must document the compelling and unusual urgency and the date the supplies or services are needed.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Proposed draft option provisions were never published as a result of passage of D.C. Law 6-85. Provisions relating to options are to be included in the revised procurement regulations, but the revision is not expected to be completed before January 1987.

    Recommendation: The Mayor should require the Director of Administrative Services to implement and enforce regulations governing the use and exercise of contract option clauses.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia

 

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