Selected Aspects of the DOE Operating Contract for the Solar Energy Research Institute

RCED-83-66: Published: Mar 15, 1983. Publicly Released: Mar 20, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the Department of Energy's (DOE) contract with the Midwest Research Institute (MRI) for operating and managing the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI). Specifically GAO was asked to discuss whether: (1) the process DOE used to evaluate the performance by MRI under the contract resulted in a fair characterization of that performance; (2) the DOE decision to extend the contract 15 months beyond its scheduled expiration date was warranted; and (3) the process used by DOE to recompete the contract was adequate to select a qualified contractor for SERI.

MRI has managed and operated SERI since its inception in 1977 and was granted a 15-month contract extension to mid-1983. Following the extension, MRI was selected as the contractor for the next 5 years. GAO found that DOE generally followed its prescribed contractor evaluation process in assessing the performance of MRI and that the resulting evaluations gave a fair characterization of that performance. While GAO noted certain evaluation deficiencies, it felt that they did not affect the fairness of the evaluations. However, GAO cautioned that these deficiencies, if not corrected, could affect future evaluations. GAO also found that the contract extension was warranted and stated that recompetition without the extension would have been disruptive during redirection and downscoping efforts at SERI.

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 Secretary of Energy should facilitate timely performance feedback to the contractor by complying with the completion timeframe set forth in the contract.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  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 Secretary of Energy should establish procedures requiring that interim performance feedback be provided formally to the contractor's upper-level management at least once during the performance period.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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