Competitive Contracting:

Preliminary Issues Regarding FAIR Act Implementation

T-GGD-00-34: Published: Oct 28, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1999.

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L. Nye Stevens
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed its observations on the initial implementation of the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998, focusing on: (1) the progress to date in developing and releasing agencies' FAIR Act inventories; (2) the status of the initial steps taken to implement the FAIR Act; and (3) issues related to the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the General Services Administration FAIR Act inventories.

GAO noted that: (1) most agencies' FAIR Act inventories have been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and consultation, and the first group of inventories is now publicly available; (2) clearly, executive agencies and OMB still have plenty of work ahead to implement the FAIR Act, including the public release of more inventories and the resolution of any challenges; (3) nevertheless, GAO's initial review of selected inventories raise some questions about the efforts thus far which GAO will be reviewing for the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology; (4) these questions concern: (a) the decisions agencies make about whether or not activities were eligible for competition and what the reasons for those decisions were; (b) the processes agencies use to develop their FAIR Act inventories; (c) how useful the FAIR Act inventories are; and (d) what supplemental information can be included to increase the usefulness of inventories; (5) by enacting the FAIR Act, Congress has increased the visibility of agencies' commercial activities; (6) continuing congressional interest in the FAIR Act process is needed in order to maintain serious agency attention to developing and using the FAIR Act inventories; and (7) oversight hearings send clear messages to agencies that Congress is serious about improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations and the effective implementation of the FAIR Act.

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