Federal Contracting:

Comments on S. 1724, the Freedom From Government Competition Act

T-GGD-96-169: Published: Sep 24, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1996.

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GAO discussed S. 1724, the Freedom From Government Competition Act, which would require that the government procure from the private sector the goods and services it needs to carry out its functions. GAO noted that: (1) the amount of government contracting is already extensive, and most government agencies rely heavily on contractors to provide commercial services; (2) the proposed act would greatly increase the proportion of government activity carried out by private contractors; (3) the three exceptions to the act's goal of promoting private contracting occur when the goods or services are inherently governmental, government performance is needed to protect national security, or commercial practices cannot fulfill unique agency requirements; (4) the nondiscretionary nature of the proposed act would settle most of the disagreement over private contracting; (5) a number of other considerations need to be addressed, including the utility of retaining some government services to use as benchmarks for evaluating contractors, whether some government services are less costly than contracting, whether adequate competition exists, and whether the leasing of public facilities should be retained; (6) increasing federal contracting may overwhelm federal workload capacities and be very optimistic; and (7) persistent contract management problems and federal downsizing may also adversely affect the government's ability to increase and adequately monitor federal contracting.

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