Weaknesses in Procurement Practices To Obtain Outside Professional Talent Services

ID-82-46: Published: Aug 10, 1982. Publicly Released: Aug 10, 1982.

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GAO studied United States International Communication Agency (USICA) procedures for obtaining professional talent services from outside USICA for specialized needs.

GAO found that, while existing procedures at USICA were generally adequate, regulations were not always followed; thus, awards were not made on a competitive basis. In fiscal year 1981, USICA acquired outside talent valued at about $5 million for services such as writing, filming, translation, exhibit design and fabrication, copyrights, research, and announcing. GAO found that purchase orders and contracts for these services were frequently awarded on a sole-source basis and that, in some instances, contracts were renewed annually without competition. Such noncompetitive awards were ostensibly justified by the urgent requirements of some programing and management offices; however, GAO noted that urgency was sometimes created by delaying decisions. GAO also found that Voice of America (VOA) retirees were often used as long-term purchase order vendors in lieu of employing staff. These long-standing VOA practices pointed up the need for planning for the orderly replacement of personnel through improved recruiting and training procedures. GAO also learned that nepotism was practiced in two instances in clear violation of VOA regulations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, USICA, should require procurement officials to seek competitive sources before a sole-source justification can be approved.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, USICA, should instruct VOA officials to anticipate retirements and provide for the orderly and timely replacement of full-time employees rather than continuing to rely on purchase order vendors.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, USICA, should, for existing purchase order vendors, require VOA officials to establish procedures to periodically reevaluate the need for retaining former employees performing services in a contractual capacity.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, USICA, should instruct VOA officials to comply with existing VOA regulations which prohibit using talent vendors who work under any form of supervision of a relative or dependent.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

 

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