Contract Award by the Federal Power Commission for Developing and Installing a Regulatory Information System

RED-76-59: Published: Apr 2, 1976. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on a Federal Power Commission (FPC) contract award for the development and installation of a Regulatory Information System.

GAO found that the FPC contract award was in technical conformance with Federal procurement regulations on competition. Certain FPC actions may have detracted from the competitiveness of the award. These actions included: (1) permitting the contractor to do the development work under the first contract and also to compete for the second gave it a competitive advantage and possibly limited the number of offerors; (2) requiring the system to be on line as soon as possible unduly limited the time allowed to prepare proposals and to adequately evaluate proposals received; and (3) permitting an FPC employee, formerly employed by the awardee, to play a minor role in the contract award created the appearance of a conflict of interest, although GAO found no evidence of such a conflict. GAO stated that FPC could have had greater assurance that the contractor's recommended data management system was in fact the best for its needs if it had required the contractor to: (1) narrow the choice of data management systems under consideration to a few systems and test them for performance before recommending one as the best; and (2) maintain full documentation supporting its recommendation. The General Services Administration (GSA) authorized the contract award but did not follow its review procedures on delegation of procurement authority because it maintained that FPC was procuring facilities services, not automatic data processing equipment. GSA will revise its regulations to make such contracts subject to the same rules as direct agency equipment procurement.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman, FPC, should be sure that those actions which GAO believes detracted from the competitive nature of the contract award are avoided in future procurements. The Chairman, FPC, should require testing of alternative systems when contracting for evaluations such as required under the first Regulatory Information System. In addition, he should emphasize the need to set forth clearly, in the contract terms, the requirements for documenting contractor's actions. The Chairman, FPC, should require the Assistant Executive Director, Office of Regulatory Information Systems, to periodically evaluate the adequacy of the security of the data in the Regulatory Information System and to upgrade the security when necessary.

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