Procurement:

Department of State Should Be Competing Many Sole-Source Contracts

NSIAD-89-6: Published: Jan 24, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of State's sole-source contract awards to determine whether State: (1) should have sought competitive procurement; (2) complied with key federal regulations; and (3) properly reported its procurement data to the Federal Procurement Data Center (FPDC).

GAO found that State: (1) should have sought competitive procurement for eight of nine sole-source contracts awarded for periods ranging from several years to 30 years; (2) should have sought competition for six contracts for medical personnel services and one for automatic data processing support services; (3) reports to the Federal Procurement Data Center were incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable; (4) did not maintain key internal controls to promote competition and limit unjustifiable sole-source contracts; (5) failed to develop a central computer database to collect and report its procurement data; (6) did not maintain a required payment file on each contract to ensure proper payments and provide supporting documentation for each contract; and (7) inaccurately documented 17 of 21 recently awarded contracts.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State has developed a comprehensive checklist for final contract review by reviewers and issued a memo that all OTF&OC procurements must be sent to the Technical Support Branch for competition advocate monitoring. A reviewer's signature on a checklist acts like a certification.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to develop specific procedures for reviewing and approving contracts and have reviewers certify in writing that proposed contract awards adhere to key procurement regulations. The procedures should ensure that contracts are reviewed, approved, and certified by required officials before award, and that sole-source decisions are adequately justified and comply with key procurement laws and regulations. For cases in which the regulations permit awards based on unusual and urgent circumstances before preparing the written justification, the procedures should also include deadlines for justification preparation and review.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Procurement Executive developed a software package and users manual for a worldwide database reporting system in 1991. The system is now in operation. Reports are received from posts quarterly and the overseas data, along with domestic data, reported to FPDC. The goal supplying 90 percent complete and accurate data to FPDC has not yet been achieved.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Under Secretary for Management, in coordination with the Assistant Secretary for Administration, the Comptroller, and the Procurement Executive, to develop and implement an automated system to collect, maintain, and report to the Federal Procurement Data Center accurate data on all State procurement actions, as required by procurement regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of Acquisitions implemented a file documentation checklist and issued a PDM requiring uniform documentation. Adherence is verified in pre-award file reviews. Also, OPE monitors documentation during acquisition management reviews of contracting activities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to develop specific procedures and requirements for contract-issuing office contract file review to ensure that future contract files contain timely and adequate pre-award documentation, and that post-award actions are timely and adequately documented.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Office of Fiscal Operations has established a system of paying office contract files, which is now in use and will be continued.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Comptroller to develop and maintain a paying office contract file for each contract, as required by procurement regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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