The U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation's Contracting With Individual Consultants

RCED-84-106: Published: Feb 7, 1984. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation's contracting activities with individual consultants.

GAO found that the Corporation did not consistently follow either its policy or guidelines when awarding contracts to individual consultants. Between October 1981 and August 1983, the Corporation awarded contracts to 55 individual consultants without competition. In hiring 10 consultants between October 1981 and November 1982, GAO found that the Corporation failed to: (1) compare the contract cost for these consultants with the cost of hiring permanent employees; (2) address conflict-of-interest matters in two contracts; (3) demonstrate that the consultants were uniquely qualified to perform the contract service or were needed on a time-critical basis; or (4) include evaluations of six consultants' qualifications in its contract files. In awarding contracts to 13 consultants after November 1982, GAO found that the Corporation did not: (1) compare the contracting costs with the cost of hiring permanent employees; or (2) monitor the consultants' performance. In addition, GAO found that the Corporation's practice of excluding individual consultant contracts from competition and not limiting noncompetitive procurements to time-critical situations or when unique expertise is needed is not consistent with Government procurement policy.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: On March 15, 1984, the Corporation's Board of Directors stated that it was not its intent to require the Corporation to compete contracts awarded to individual consultants.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation should require the Corporation to follow the Board of Directors' policy and award individual consultant contracts on a noncompetitive basis only after it determines that the consultant has the unique expertise needed to perform the service or a time-critical situation makes competition unfeasible.

    Agency Affected: United States Synthetic Fuels Corporation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: On March 15, 1984, the Corporation's Board of Directors stated that individual consultant contracts are excluded from this requirement.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation should require the Corporation to provide a written justification demonstrating that competition is not feasible for contracts costing $25,000 or more.

    Agency Affected: United States Synthetic Fuels Corporation

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Corporation stated that it considers relative costs before contracting for consultants but that it has no pre-set formula. It stated that cost comparison must be made only for major contracts. It also agreed to place greater emphasis on monitoring consultants performance over the life of the contracts.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation should require the Corporation to follow its guidelines by: (1) comparing consultants' charges with the cost of hiring permanent employees before awarding contracts to individual consultants, recognizing that for some contracts the documentation may be brief; and (2) monitoring consultants' performance over the life of the contracts.

    Agency Affected: United States Synthetic Fuels Corporation

 

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