An Improved Automated System Would Better Identify Small Businesses Seeking Federal Contracting Opportunities

IMTEC-84-3: Published: Jan 12, 1984. Publicly Released: Jan 19, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Procurement Automated Source System (PASS), which provides federal agencies with information concerning small businesses competing for government contracts, to evaluate: (1) how well the system is functioning; (2) how much federal agencies and contractors use it to foster small business procurement opportunities; (3) the accuracy, relevancy, and timeliness of the system's information; and (4) what plans SBA has for the future of the system.

GAO found that: (1) the system is being used by a variety of agencies and prime contractors to obtain information concerning small businesses competing for federal contracts; (2) information generated by the system is often outdated and incomplete; (3) the system has operational problems, resulting in part from inefficient software; and (4) the SBA decision to correct the problems by redesigning the system has raised concerns that such action might be premature.

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 Administrator, SBA, to correct the problems in PASS, should increase the efficiency and usefulness of the existing system by: (1) modifying PASS software to correct processing deficiencies; (2) updating system documentation to facilitate timely resolution of operational problems; and (3) increasing efforts to encourage user participation in suggesting and reviewing system improvements.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  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 Administrator, SBA, to correct the problems in PASS, should improve and maintain the currentness and accuracy of PASS information, after resolving the software deficiencies, by: (1) promptly processing the large backlog of information awaiting entry; and (2) regularly operating the annual update, outreach, 8(a), and vocabulary update functions of the system.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  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 Administrator, SBA, to increase the level of technical oversight in operating PASS and to build an appropriate foundation for a new system, should direct the program and contracting offices to closely monitor the technical and management operations of PASS at the U.S. Railway Association.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SBA decided it did not have enough time to identify and analyze other alternatives before the fiscal year (FY) 1984 contract expired. It elected to have a small 8(a) firm study the FY 1984 system to determine what improvements were needed. SBA issued an request for proposals for the operation of the new system. A small Michigan firm was selected to operate PASS in FY 1985.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, SBA, to increase the level of technical oversight in operating PASS and to build an appropriate foundation for a new system, should defer any hardware or software decisions on a new system until SBA: (1) analyzes the current functional requirements and evaluates the current system's ability to meet these requirements; (2) identifies alternative system approaches to meeting these requirements; and (3) performs a cost-benefit analysis of each approach to use as a basis for any future redesign efforts.

    Agency Affected: Small Business Administration

 

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