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    Subject Term: "Contracting officers"

    17 publications with a total of 70 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Timothy J. DiNapoli
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help foster strategic decision making and improvements in the acquisition of services, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics should, as part of its effort to update the January 2016 instruction, reassess the roles, responsibilities, authorities, and organizational placement of key leadership positions, including functional domain experts, senior services managers, and component level leads.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help foster strategic decision making and improvements in the acquisition of services, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics should, as part of its effort to update the January 2016 instruction, clarify the purpose and timing of the Services Requirements Review Board process to better align it with DOD's programming and budgeting processes.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to develop a comprehensive long-term capital asset plan to inform its allocation of school facility funds. Such a plan should include a prioritized list of school repair and maintenance projects with the greatest need for funding.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. Interior stated that Indian Affairs is engaged with the Office of Management and Budget to develop a more robust and prioritized capital asset management plan for school infrastructure needs, which they expect to complete before the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to provide more details in Indian Affairs' annual congressional budget justifications on specific needs at BIE schools, including information on proposed capital expenditures, and updates on previous school construction projects.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. In May 2017, Interior stated that Indian Affairs is currently engaged in an effort to comprehensively review the budget justification process with the objective of improving the quality, format, and presentation of the President's annual budget submission to Congress and that it will work to provide more detailed information on proposed capital expenditures and updates on previous construction projects. In addition, the agency reported that Indian Affairs will ensure improvements to the budgeting process are made permanent through formal policy and procedure in order to ensure that the needs of BIE schools are accurately and regularly reported in its congressional budget justification.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to develop and implement guidance for its project managers and contracting officers regarding effective use of accountability measures.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. Interior indicated that the Acquisition office and the Division of Facilities Management and Construction are working together to create and implement guidance and were preparing and planning improvements for future construction contracts. In addition, the agency stated that Indian Affairs will develop a financial accountability workgroup with members from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, BIA, BIE, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to develop guidance and standards to ensure the effective use of accountability measures.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to clarify Indian Affairs' design handbook requirements to explain when and how school designs can deviate from specific requirements--such as heating and cooling systems with complex features--when the life cycle cost analysis demonstrates the requirements are not cost-effective or practical given such factors as the technical capacity of school facility staff.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior disagreed with this recommendation, noting that it had revised its design handbook in 2017 and that the revised handbook includes a process to consider deviations that do not violate requisite codes, standards, or laws. Interior also stated that the handbook is not intended to describe every scenario where a deviation may be requested and that it is more efficient to allow designers, schools and other users to request deviations and exceptions as and when needs arise. However, we believe the revised handbook is still in draft and is being reviewed internally and has neither been finalized nor distributed: an updated design handbook that includes a process for deviations is critical. We agree with the agency that the handbook does not need to describe every scenario where a deviation may be requested. The draft 2017 handbook indicates that when conflicts or questions arise the designer is to formally notify the Interior project manager in writing to request a waiver. However, it does not provide an explanation of the process or how life cycle cost analysis might inform that process. We continue to believe that, in addition to a process, providing guidelines and an explanation about how life-cycle cost analysis should inform such decisions in the handbook before it is finalized would be useful and help to ensure that the choices designers make with regard to design are both cost-effective and practical.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to improve oversight and technical assistance to tribal organizations to enhance tribal capacity to manage major construction projects.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. Interior stated that its Division of Facilities Management and Construction will develop a "high-risk" project tracking and monitoring process. The Division will work with BIA and BIE facilities managers to develop an engagement plan to better inform tribes of the extensive requirements involving the management of capital projects replacing schools or facilities. For tribes that manage projects themselves, Indian Affairs will offer to provide them with technical assistance, particularly during key program phases.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to develop and implement guidance for maintaining complete contract and grant files for all BIE school construction projects.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. Interior stated that Indian Affairs will develop, as part of its Financial Accountability Workgroup, guidance for maintaining all types of construction contract and grant files.
    Director: Marie Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    15 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretaries of Defense and Housing and Urban Development should take steps--such as clarifying guidance, providing additional training, or issuing reminders to officials--to help ensure that guidance on when to prepare an IGCE is followed.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and stated that it is in the process of developing guidance and training on independent government cost estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretaries of Defense and Housing and Urban Development should take steps--such as clarifying guidance, providing additional training, or issuing reminders to officials--to help ensure that guidance on when to prepare an IGCE is followed.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: HUD agreed with the recommendation. In July 2017, HUD noted that it is writing an acquisition instruction to guide acquisition workforce personnel on when and how to prepare an independent government cost estimate which will address this recommendation. It is also planning training on this issue in the fall of 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretary of Education should consider making Contracts and Acquisitions Management guidance applicable to all agency procurements, and if so, take steps--such as clarifying guidance, providing additional training, or issuing reminders to officials--to help ensure that guidance on when to prepare an IGCE is followed.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education agreed with the recommendation and stated that it will enhance or clarify guidance on independent government cost estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs contain key information consistent with good cost estimating practices, the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security should take steps to ensure that IGCE guidance is followed by, for example, providing training or issuing reminders to officials.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS agreed with the recommendation and stated that it will take steps to determine why guidance on independent government cost estimates is not followed. In July, DHS reported that the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer(OCPO) reached out to the nine DHS contracting activities soliciting feedback on why program officials may not be developing IGCEs in accordance with existing policies. Feedback was received in late May 2017. OCPO is currently evaluating the feedback and identifying consistent themes which will lead to the development of IGCE policy compliance measures.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs contain key information consistent with good cost estimating practices, the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security should take steps to ensure that IGCE guidance is followed by, for example, providing training or issuing reminders to officials.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and stated that it is in the process of developing guidance and training on independent government estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs contain key information consistent with good cost estimating practices, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should revise or clarify guidance to require that IGCEs document data sources, methodology, and assumptions, and take steps to help ensure that guidance is followed by, for example, providing training or issuing reminders to officials to include this information when developing IGCEs.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education agreed with the recommendation and stated that it will enhance or clarify guidance on independent government cost estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs contain key information consistent with good cost estimating practices, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should revise or clarify guidance to require that IGCEs document data sources, methodology, and assumptions, and take steps to help ensure that guidance is followed by, for example, providing training or issuing reminders to officials to include this information when developing IGCEs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: HUD agreed with the recommendation. In July 2017, HUD noted that it is writing an acquisition instruction to guide acquisition workforce personnel on when and how to prepare an independent government cost estimate which will address this recommendation. It is also planning training on this issue in the fall of 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs contain key information consistent with good cost estimating practices, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should revise or clarify guidance to require that IGCEs document data sources, methodology, and assumptions, and take steps to help ensure that guidance is followed by, for example, providing training or issuing reminders to officials to include this information when developing IGCEs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with the recommendation and stated that it will revise guidance on independent government cost estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs contain key information consistent with good cost estimating practices, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should revise or clarify guidance to require that IGCEs document data sources, methodology, and assumptions, and take steps to help ensure that guidance is followed by, for example, providing training or issuing reminders to officials to include this information when developing IGCEs.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL agreed with the recommendation and stated that it will review guidance and training on independent government estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretaries of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should take steps to ensure that, when appropriate, contracting staff document differences between IGCE and final contract award value in the contract file.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS agreed with the recommendation. In July 2017, DHS reported that the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) disseminated a new draft policy on this issue and solicited feedback from the Component's contracting activities. The Components provided feedback on the draft policy and OCPO is currently adjudicating their comments and will incorporate, as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretaries of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should take steps to ensure that, when appropriate, contracting staff document differences between IGCE and final contract award value in the contract file.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education agreed with the recommendation and stated that it will enhance or clarify guidance on independent government cost estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretaries of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should take steps to ensure that, when appropriate, contracting staff document differences between IGCE and final contract award value in the contract file.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with the recommendation and stated that it is in the process of developing guidance and training on independent government estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretaries of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should take steps to ensure that, when appropriate, contracting staff document differences between IGCE and final contract award value in the contract file.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: HUD agreed with the recommendation. In July 2017, HUD noted that it will remind managers to ensure they review price analysis, pre-negotiation and price negotiation memoranda to ensure that differences between the independent government cost estimate and final contract award value are properly documented in the contract file.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretaries of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should take steps to ensure that, when appropriate, contracting staff document differences between IGCE and final contract award value in the contract file.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with the recommendation and stated that it will revise guidance on independent government cost estimates.
    Recommendation: To ensure that IGCEs are optimized as a tool in the procurement planning process, the Secretaries of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor should take steps to ensure that, when appropriate, contracting staff document differences between IGCE and final contract award value in the contract file.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL agreed with the recommendation and stated that it will review continue to work with contracting officials to ensure proper documentation and issue a policy on this issue no later than the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    12 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Inspectors General of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop or clarify existing guidance on the implementation of the pilot program. For example, the guidance should identify specific pilot program processes such as levels of review during an investigation, and where the findings of investigations are to be reported.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce OIG concurred with this recommendation. In its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to revise its guidance on whistleblower investigations. We have requested the revised guidance.
    Recommendation: The Inspectors General of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop or clarify existing guidance on the implementation of the pilot program. For example, the guidance should identify specific pilot program processes such as levels of review during an investigation, and where the findings of investigations are to be reported.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior OIG concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. In its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to revise its guidance on whistleblower investigations.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Homeland Security concurred with this recommendation. Officials have said they have taken steps to implement this recommendation with guidance and once GAO is provided with evidence of executing guidance, we will review these efforts to assess whether the recommendation was implemented.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken sufficient actions necessary to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation. Commerce officials have said they plan to issue an Acquisition Notice to the acquisition community encouraging Commerce contracting officials to communicate the program's requirements and protections. We have requested a copy of the acquisition notice.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure universal usage and reduce duplicate work, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Office of Acquisition and Logistics (OAL) to work with the National Acquisition Center to develop a plan for adding functionality to the Electronic Contract Management System (eCMS) that will alleviate the need for National Acquisition Center contracting officers to enter obligations for high-tech medical equipment into two different data systems.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, VA concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken actions necessary to implement it. However, in its letter to OMB and the Congress, VA stated that it plans to pursue a new financial and contracting systems that will be interoperable.
    Recommendation: In order to ensure that VA's procurement data is complete and accurate, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Office of Acquisitions and Logistics to develop policies and procedures to ensure that obligations made through prime vendor orders--such as medical-surgical orders--are consistently captured in eCMS.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, VA concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken actions necessary to implement it. In its letter to OMB and the Congress, VA noted an April 2016 policy that requires monthly reporting of orders to contracting officers, but additional guidance and processes are required to implement this policy.
    Recommendation: In order to ensure that contracting officers have clear and effective policies as soon as possible, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the OAL to identify measures to expedite the revision of the Veterans Affairs Acquisition Regulation (VAAR), which has been ongoing for many years, and the issuance of the VA Acquisition Manual.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, VA concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its letter to OMB and the Congress, VA stated that it anticipated that the updated VAAR would be issued by December 2018.
    Recommendation: To help contracting officers use current policy that is in effect in the period before the updated VAAR and VA Acquisition Manual are released, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct OAL to take interim steps to clarify its policy framework, including establishing and adhering to set time frames for completing the process of reviewing all Information Letters, and either rescinding them or reissuing updated policy through Procurement Policy Memoranda.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, VA concurred with this recommendation but has not yet completed the actions necessary to implement it. In its letter to OMB and the Congress, VA stated that some Information Letters are still awaiting review and rescission or reissuance.
    Recommendation: To address remaining ambiguities in roles and customer relationships, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction to assess whether additional policy or guidance is needed to clarify the roles of VA's national contracting organizations, beyond that provided in its March 2013 memorandum outlining the current structure.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, VA concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its letter to OMB and the Congress, VA stated that it planned to issue updated guidance on roles for its national contracting organizations.
    Recommendation: To facilitate consolidation of similar requirements and leverage buying power across medical centers within VISNs, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct VHA Procurement and Logistics to conduct a review of VISN-level strategic sourcing efforts, identify best practices, and, if needed, issue guidance.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, VA concurred with this recommendation. In July 2017, Veterans Health Administration officials stated that they would take further action to collect and disseminate best practices, which they estimate will be complete by late 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Senior Procurement Executive to issue guidance to the Heads of Contracting Activity to focus internal compliance reviews on ensuring that required contract documents are properly prepared and documented.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, VA concurred with this recommendation. In its letter to OMB and the Congress, VA stated that it is beginning coordination between the Senior Procurement Executive (SPE) and its Heads of Contracting Activity (HCA) on using the findings of OMB A-123 reviews to focus its contract compliance reviews. The SPE and HCA developed a memorandum of understanding for this effort in late 2016, but VA has not yet provided information on any new guidance to focus compliance reviews.
    Recommendation: To maximize compliance with mandatory national contracts during the transition to the new medical-surgical prime vendor (MSPV) process, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Strategic Acquisition Center (SAC) and VHA Procurement and Logistics to take steps to ensure that: (1) SAC has mechanisms in place to collect and monitor transaction data to determine the extent to which Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) and their medical centers are complying with the requirement to use national contracts. (2) They establish achievable time frames for eliminating the ability for ordering officers to directly order Federal Supply Schedule items from the MSPV catalog once SAC awards national contracts for these items and monitor progress on an ongoing basis. (3) The ordering interfaces developed by the prime vendors clearly distinguish and prioritize standardized national contracts over items on Federal Supply Schedule contracts.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, VA concurred with this recommendation. VA has taken steps to monitor compliance with mandatory national contracts. However, VA has not yet established achievable timeframes for replacing Federal Supply Schedule items made available through non-competitive agreements its new Medical-Surgical Prime Vendor program, nor has it taken steps to distinguish these items from competitive national contracts in the ordering interface.
    Director: Williamson, Randall B
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop and maintain medical sharing expertise within the network contracting offices, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to create a plan for increasing the retention of contracting officers that work in medical sharing teams.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, VHA reported that it is working on creating a plan for increasing the retention of contracting officers that work in medical sharing teams. The Medical Sharing Office (MSO) has taken several steps including conducting research on possible ways to minimize or eliminate steps within its existing plan and expanding the number of topical training provided virtually network contracting offices to develop competency in VHA Health Care 1102 staff. In addition, VHA reported they are developing a training schedule to ensure newly deployed interns have received the training and resource to successfully conduct health care contracts if they are assigned to health care resources team and continuing to collaborate with the field to ensure awareness of MSO support and assistance.
    Recommendation: To ensure VHA effectively communicates with its affiliates regarding SSACs, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to reach out to all of its affiliates, identify any concerns, and determine the most effective method of communicating with affiliates regarding SSAC development.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the VHA reported that it plans to have an Academic Affiliate Contracting Forum on August 15-16, 2017 in Nashville, TN or Dallas, TX for VHA staff responsible for health care contracts and University affiliates. The purpose of the Forum is to strengthen and advance the collaborative partnership for providing service to Veterans; share perspectives; and enhance awareness about processes, procedures and tools that will help make contracting processes faster and easier for all parties.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the use of warranties and guarantees in Navy shipbuilding, the Secretary of the Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy, in arrangements where the shipbuilder is paid to correct defects, to structure contract terms such that shipbuilders do not earn profit for correcting construction deficiencies following delivery that are determined to be their responsibility.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense partially concurred with this recommendation, and has completed a study reviewing our findings. The study, conducted by the CNA Analysis and Solutions, found that our recommendations were well founded and appropriate. In response to our report and the study, the Navy states it will provide written guidance by the end of 2017 to prevent shipbuilders from earning profit for correcting shipbuilder-responsible defects.
    Recommendation: To improve the use of warranties and guarantees in Navy shipbuilding, the Secretary of the Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to establish and document a clear objective for using a guaranty, and then create guidance for contracting officers that illustrates how to implement a guaranty that meets this objective. This guidance should describe how contracting officers should use aspects of the guaranty, including determining an appropriate limitation of liability, to achieve the objective and include considerations as to when a guaranty should be a separate contract line item.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense partially concurred with this recommendation, and agreed to conduct a study to determine what policy and guidance changes are necessary to provide guidance on the many factors that should be considered to effectively implement warranty and guaranty provisions. As of April 2017, this study is complete and the Navy states that it now concurs with our recommendation. In doing so, the Navy is drafting an instruction, including a decision template, laying out the considerations underlying the decision to use warranties, guarantees or other mechanisms. This instruction will help contracting officers choose an appropriate tool and document the decision in a business clearance memorandum. The Navy plans to implement the instruction by the end of 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the use of warranties and guarantees in Navy shipbuilding, the Secretary of the Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy, for future ship construction contracts, to determine whether or not a warranty as provided in the FAR, provides value and document the costs, benefits, and other factors used to make this decision. To inform this determination, the Navy should begin differentiating the government's and shipbuilder's responsibility for defects and track the costs to correct all defects after ship delivery.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense partially concurred with this recommendation, and has completed a study reviewing our findings. The study, conducted by the CNA Analysis and Solutions, found that our recommendations were well founded and appropriate. In response to our report and the study, the Navy states it will include separate contract line items for FAR-type warranties in at least two solicitations for ship construction. In addition, the Navy states that it plans to revise data requirements to better gather and track contractor responsible defects, and then develop analytical methods to help make better determinations in the future as to the optimal guaranty duration and limit of liability. They expect to complete these activities by December 2017.
    Director: David J. Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To demonstrate the effects of GSA's ongoing efforts to better manage lease holdovers and extensions, the Administrator of GSA should identify performance goals and targets for existing or other measures related to the use of holdovers and extensions for expiring leases within GSA's strategic plan or in another agency planning document. GSA should ensure such goals, targets, and associated measures fully reflect progress, by taking into account the frequency with which holdovers and extensions occur for expiring leases within its portfolio and GSA's expected outcomes for expiring leases.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: GSA provided information to GAO in March 2017 to show that this recommendation had been implemented. Specifically, GSA updated its strategic planning process related to lease holdovers and extensions and created an up-front planning measure for expiring leases. GAO had follow up questions seeking more assurance from GSA that these actions would have the intended effect of reducing lease holdovers and extensions. As of June 2017, GAO was awaiting a response from GSA.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA OCPO and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should establish a plan to ensure that the agreement is reviewed on an annual basis as intended.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should direct OCPO and the regional administrators to revisit the 2011 service level agreement to: add details about the extent of operational control headquarters and regional supervisors should exercise to minimize potential competing interests experienced by regional contracting officers; further detail headquarters and regional supervisors' roles and responsibilities for managing regional contracting officers to improve coordination and communication; and ensure that the agreement reflects any new requirements, including recent changes in training that may require travel funds.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To address PKEMRA, the Secretary of Homeland Security should take action to address the requirements of Section 692 to implement subcontractor limitations or request that Congress amend the law to delete Section 692.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DHS took steps to ask Congress to repeal PKEMRA Section 692, which prohibits the use of subcontracts for more than 65 percent of the cost of cost-reimbursement type contracts that exceed the simplified acquisition threshold. DHS submitted a legislative change proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who approves such proposals before they are submitted to Congress. OMB approved the proposed change for PKEMRA Section 692 in April 2016. We will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
    Director: William T. Woods
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure contracting officers follow ordering procedures when using FSS, and to enhance internal controls, the Secretaries of DOD and HHS and the Administrator of GSA should issue guidance emphasizing the requirement to seek discounts and outlining effective strategies for negotiating discounts when using the FSS program.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, HHS stated that it had assessed and reviewed existing guidance and determined that existing guidance was adequate, but that HHS contracting officials needed to be refreshed on the content. While HHS stated that it had tasked the contracting heads of each HHS component with ensuring that its officials attend refresher training, the agency has not yet ensured that this has been accomplished. In June 2017, HHS officials said they were again considering issuing additional guidance, per our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure contracting officers follow ordering procedures when using FSS, and to enhance internal controls, the Secretaries of DOD and HHS and the Administrator of GSA should issue guidance reminding contracting officials of the procedures they must follow with respect to purchasing open market items through the FSS program, including the requirement to perform a separate determination that the prices of these items are fair and reasonable.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, HHS stated that it had assessed and reviewed existing guidance and determined that existing guidance was adequate, but that HHS contracting officials needed to be refreshed on the content. While HHS stated that it had tasked the contracting heads of each HHS component with ensuring that its officials attend refresher training, the agency has not yet ensured that this has been accomplished. In June 2017, HHS officials said they were again considering issuing additional guidance, per our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help foster competition for FSS orders consistent with the FAR, the Secretary of HHS should assess reasons that may be contributing to the high percentage of orders with one or two quotes--including the practice of narrowing the pool of potential vendors--and if necessary, depending on the results of the assessment, provide guidance to help ensure contracting officials are taking reasonable steps to obtain three or more quotes above the simplified acquisition threshold.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with the recommendation. In January 2017, an HHS official stated that the agency had tried to conduct an assessment but had not yet been able to obtain enough information. In June 2017, HHS officials said that they would reexamine how to conduct an assessment per our recommendation.
    Director: Cary B. Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to ensure SPOT-ES cost estimates are accurate and comprehensive, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness should, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics direct the system's program office to regularly update its life-cycle cost estimate to include defining and assessing its plans for SPOT-ES.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to help improve timeliness and reliability of data in SPOT-ES, the Secretary of Defense should direct Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy officials, through the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to ensure that contracting officers use available mechanisms to track contractor performance of SPOT data entry, such as its Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System or other appropriate performance systems or databases.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to enhance the value of SPOT-ES data, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to fully register SPOT-ES data in the DSE to make data visible and trusted, including taking the necessary steps related to authoritative data sources.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to help ensure that DOD possesses the capability to collect and report statutorily required information and to clarify responsibilities and procedures, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to update SPOT provisions during the process of updating operational contract support guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to provide clarity about expectations for the Joint Asset Movement Management System (JAMMS) that can help improve the timeliness and reliability of data for SPOT-ES from JAMMS uploads, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in coordination with the combatant commanders, to develop comprehensive guidance regarding the purpose of JAMMS and its role in supporting plans for different types of missions. Such guidance could include direction on the number and location of JAMMS terminals and how frequently JAMMS's data should be uploaded into SPOT-ES to meet DOD's information needs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that satellites storage is fully considered at the beginning of the acquisition process for all satellite programs and sufficient detailed cost data are maintained, the Secretary of Defense should provide guidance regarding when and how to use storage in the acquisition process, and establish mechanisms so that more detailed data are maintained for use in evaluating the reasonableness of contractors' storage cost proposals and for informing DOD's oversight of satellite acquisitions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its response to the report, DOD concurred with the recommendation and noted that it is important to develop guidance regarding the use of satellite storage in the acquisition process. In addition, DOD agreed that it is important to establish mechanisms such that more detailed data are available to evaluate storage cost proposals and inform the oversight of satellite acquisitions. In October 2015, DOD provided GAO with draft language that it planned to include in the Space Systems chapter of the Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG) when the final chapter was to be published. In an August 24, 2016, response to a GAO inquiry regarding the language not appearing in the on-line version of the DAG, the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD/AT&L) explained that the Space Systems chapter of the DAG had been deleted. USD/AT&L stated it was working to incorporate the proposed language in the next revision of the DAG, scheduled to be completed in December 2016. A September 12, 2017, search of DOD's on-line guidance did not locate any guidance related to satellite storage. DOD liaison was contacted, but no information has been provided yet as of September 2017.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of OFPP should take appropriate steps to amend the FAR to include the following requirement: at the time of the contract award, contracting officers shall conduct and document an assessment of the 8(a) firm's ability to comply with the subcontracting limitations.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget: Office of Federal Procurement Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: OFPP concurred with our recommendation. We asked for updates on actions taken however as of September 2017 no updates were provided. GAO will continue to monitor OFPP's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of OFPP should take appropriate steps to amend the FAR to include the following requirement: contracting officers shall include monitoring and oversight provisions in all 8(a) contracts to ensure that the contractors comply with the subcontracting limitations.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget: Office of Federal Procurement Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: OFPP concurred with our recommendation. We asked for updates on actions taken however as of September 2017 no updates were provided. GAO will continue to monitor OFPP's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of OFPP should take appropriate steps to amend the FAR to include the following requirement: prime 8(a) contractors shall periodically report to the contracting officer on the percentage of subcontracted work being performed.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget: Office of Federal Procurement Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: OFPP concurred with our recommendation. We asked for updates on actions taken however as of September 2017 no updates were provided. GAO will continue to monitor OFPP's actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Mackin, Michele
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help mitigate confusion about the use of reverse auctions in federal acquisitions, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should take steps to amend the FAR to address agencies' use of reverse auctions.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, OMB generally concurred with this recommendation but, as of July 2017, had not yet publicly released a draft of any related proposed FAR rule(s). In July 2017, OMB staff stated that a FAR team had drafted proposed regulatory changes to address the use of reverse auctions in response to GAO's recommendation. OMB staff said that the draft changes were undergoing review and they expected they would be published for public comment before the end of the calendar year.
    Director: Woods, William T
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD organizations fully comply with interagency acquisition regulations, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, as part of its ongoing interagency acquisition policy review, to ensure that its acquisition regulations, policies, and guidance on interagency contracting are updated to reflect new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) rules, including those related to a best procurement approach determination.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2014, DOD revised its acquisition regulations to incorporate additional guidance to ensure awareness of the total cost of interagency acquisitions, including fees, as part of making a determination that use of another agency's contract is in the best interest of DOD. However, DOD's regulations and guidance still do not reflect all of the factors described in the FAR which should be considered in making these determinations. In particular, DOD's regulations still do not mention assessing whether the requesting agency has the expertise to place orders and administer them against the selected contract vehicle throughout the acquisition lifecycle. In September 2017, DOD policy officials drafted new guidance to ensure that contracting officers document these factors, but this draft guidance is in the process of being reviewed and is not yet final.
    Director: Mackin, Michele
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve oversight of the limitations on subcontracting clause and to clarify who has responsibility for monitoring compliance with the clause, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in consultation with the Administrator of SBA, should provide specific guidance (including data collection options) to agency officials, including to contracting officers, about how to monitor the extent of subcontracting under 8(a) contracts, including for orders under indefinite quantity contracts.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget: Office of Federal Procurement Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) agreed with the recommendation. In summer of 2017 we followed up to see what actions they had taken to implement the recommendation, but we did not receive any updates. GAO will continue to monitor OFPP's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve oversight of the limitations on subcontracting clause and to clarify who has responsibility for monitoring compliance with the clause, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in consultation with the Administrator of SBA, should take actions to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to (1) direct contracting officers at agencies that have been delegated responsibility for ensuring compliance with the limitations on subcontracting clause to document in the contract file the steps they have taken to ensure compliance and (2) clarify the percentage of work required by an 8(a) participant under indefinite quantity contracts.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget: Office of Federal Procurement Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) agreed with the recommendation. In summer of 2017 we followed up to see what actions they had taken to implement the recommendation, but we did not receive any updates. GAO will continue to monitor OFPP's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve oversight of tribal firms' participation in the 8(a) program, the Administrator of SBA should, as the new 8(a) tracking database is being developed, take steps toensure that it has the capability to (1) provide visibility to district offices into all tribal 8(a) firms' activity by tribal entity to ensure compliance with new prohibition to award sole-source 8(a) follow-on contracts to sister subsidiaries; (2) track revenue from tribal 8(a) firms' primary and secondary industry codes to ensure that subsidiaries under the same parent company are not generating the majority of their revenue from the same primary industry; and (3) track information on 8(a) contracts and task or delivery orders,including orders awarded under basic ordering agreements, tohelp ensure that district officials have information necessary toenforce the 8(a) program regulations.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Small Business Administration (SBA) neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. In June 2015, SBA officials told GAO that they will use a high risk model of random surveillance to track revenue in primary and secondary codes for entity-owned firms, such as tribal 8(a) firms. SBA will include this as a part of the continuing eligibility process, and will randomly select entity-owned firms and subsidiaries for the deep dive. As part of this effort, SBA will pull data from the Federal Procurement Data System to determine what industry codes the subsidiaries are earning revenues. SBA will look for firms generating revenue in another industry code that exceeds the revenue in their primary industry code when the revenue also aligns under the primary industry code of another subsidiary firm for two consecutive years. These firms will be notified of SBA's concern in writing during their continuing eligibility review to be vigilant to avoid further action by the SBA. In February 2016, SBA informed us that it had delayed plans for the random surveillance, and had taken steps in the interim to begin monitoring the revenue generated under a subsidiary's primary and secondary NAICS codes by tracking award obligations for all entity-owned firms in a spreadsheet. SBA officials told us that the spreadsheet is a stop gap measure until the database can be developed. We asked for updates to steps taken but as of September 2017, no updates were provided. We will continue to track progress on the development of this randomized analysis and other efforts to provide the necessary visibility to all district offices on tribal 8(a) firms participation in the 8(a) program.
    Director: Hutton, John P
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure DOD officials are able to gain insight into the risk assessment that is required to be documented in the contract file and the basis for the government's profit or fee negotiation objective, the Secretary of Defense should redesign the weighted guidelines worksheet to explicitly show the incurred cost calculations and a narrative description of the reason for assigning a specific contract-type risk value.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not completed actions necessary to implement it. Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy's(DPAP) members have drafted two proposed changes to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplemental (DFARS). The first proposed rule is designed to provide a more transparent means of documenting the impact of costs incurred during the undefinitized period of an undefinitized contract action (UCA) on allowable profit. Proposed changes to the worksheet include more transparency and narrative requirements to detail the rationale for contracting officers' assignments of weighted guideline values. In addition to proposed changes to the weighted guideline worksheet, the proposed DFARS rule also provides new narrative requirements for Price Negotiation Memorandums. The second proposed rule changes the undefinitized period for a UCA from UCA award to the date when the government receives a qualifying proposal from the contractor as opposed to the date when the UCA is definitized. These proposed rules are currently being reviewed and approved by senior DOD officials. DPAP expects to finalize these proposed rules sometime later this year. If one or both are approved, the final rules will be published after a 90 day comment period.