District of Columbia:

Authority Needs to Improve Its Procurement Practices

GGD-99-134: Published: Aug 18, 1999. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the procurement practices of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, focusing on whether: (1) applicable procurement regulations and procedures were followed in awarding and administering selected contracts on behalf of the Authority's former Chief of Management Officer and to Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio and Associates; and (2) the Authority and the District received the goods and services that they contracted and paid for in the contracts that GAO reviewed.

GAO noted that: (1) the Authority did not always comply with its procurement regulations and procedures or follow sound contracting principles when it awarded and administered the 9 contracts that GAO assessed; (2) the Authority's contract files for these contracts were incomplete; (3) the files did not generally contain documentation of the key contract award and administration decisions as required by the Authority's procurement regulations; (4) as a result of the incomplete contract files, the Authority could not demonstrate that its objectives of: (a) acquiring goods and services at the lowest price or best value; and (b) treating offerors fairly were achieved for several of the contracts GAO reviewed; (5) the Authority's procurement regulations provide for a preference for competitively awarded contracts and require written justification and approval of sole source contracts; (6) the Authority's contract files contained evidence that it sought competition for 7 of the 9 contracts assessed; (7) however, contrary to regulations, the Authority did not: (a) document its basis for contract selection for 3 contracts; (b) include written justification for 1 sole source contract award or a series of modifications to another contract that, in effect, was a sole source award; or (c) comply with other requirements in several cases; (8) none of the contract files for the 9 contracts assessed contained certification or any other evidence that the contractor performed satisfactorily prior to payment of invoices; (9) for the 2 emergency sole source contracts awarded by the District government, the District's Chief Procurement Officer did not comply with the Authority's contract review and approval regulations governing District contracts or procurement regulations; (10) several factors appeared to contribute to the Authority's failure to comply with its procurement regulations; and (11) according to the Authority's former Executive Director, the magnitude of the tasks and the short timeframe in which the Authority had to complete them contributed to the Authority's procurements not being as "tidy" as the Authority would have liked.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance (Authority) will terminate as of September 28, 2001, and its contracts activity will be assigned to the District of Columbia's Chief of Procurement for administration and oversight. As a result, this recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: To improve its contracting operations, the Chair of the Authority should require the Executive Director to: (1) approve and justify all waivers of Authority contracting regulations in writing; (2) only extend contracts in writing and prohibit the Executive Director from extending or modifying expired contracts; and (3) include in contract files a written certification, signed by an appropriate official, stating that the contractor's performance was or was not satisfactory.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Authority will terminate as of September 28, 2001, and its contracting activities will be transferred to the District of Columbia's Chief of Procurement for administration and oversight. As a result, this recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: To improve its contracting operations, the Chair of the Authority should direct the Executive Director to: (1) fully define the roles and responsibilities of the Authority's procurement staff; (2) prepare a written plan for contracting that includes methods for ensuring compliance with the procurement regulations; (3) provide guidance to the procurement staff on areas, such as determining best value, developing performance standards for work statements, monitoring and certifying contractors' performance, preparing written justifications for sole source awards, documenting the basis for contract selection, awarding contracts that are between $100,000 and $500,000, and executing contract modifications, or contract options.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Authority will terminate as of September 28, 2001, and its contracting activities will be transferred to the District of Columbia's Chief of Procurement for administration and oversight. As a result, this recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: To improve its contracting operations, the Chair of the Authority should hold the Executive Director and other procurement staff accountable for ensuring that they follow the Authority's procurement regulations.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Authority hired a contractor in October 1999 to audit the procurement practices of independent District agencies. The Authority provided support to show that a contractor was hired to provide audit services to assit the Authority in reviewing procurement practices of the District of Columbia government agencies for compliance with District procurement laws and regulations as well as compliance with budget requirements and best procurement practices. The Authority states that the audit reports of the independent agenices did not disclose any major procurement issues.

    Recommendation: To improve its contracting operations, the Chair of the Authority should require the Executive Director to assess whether the Authority's processes and controls for the review and approval of District contracts prior to award are effective and, if not, make the appropriate changes.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority

 

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