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United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

November 8, 2006: 

Henrietta H. Fore: 
Under Secretary for Management: 

Charles E. Williams: 
Director and Chief Operating Officer: 
Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations: 
Department of State: 

Subject: Department of State Contract for Security Installation at 

In March 2003, the Department of State (State) awarded a sole-source 
contract to EmbSEC, a Virginia limited liability corporation, for work 
at U.S. embassies. The contract currently has a ceiling price of $354 
million. The contractor is required to install and maintain technical 
security equipment, such as alarms, cameras, and controlled-access 
equipment; establish X-ray capability for special projects; and 
maintain and repair physical security products. The contractor also 
procures equipment and materials and operates the warehouse where they 
are stored. 

EmbSEC was created as a joint venture, mentor/protégé partnership under 
the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) business development 
program. A joint venture in the 8(a) program is an agreement between an 
8(a) participant and one or more businesses to work together on a 
specific 8(a) contract. SBA regulations state that the purpose of the 
mentor/protégé relationship is to enhance the capabilities of the 
protégé and to improve its ability to successfully compete for 
contracts. The EmbSEC joint venture is comprised of RDR, Inc., the 
mentor, and BP International (BPI), the protégé, an 8(a) firm at the 
time the contract was awarded. The terms of the EmbSEC joint venture 
state that RDR will perform operations support, database development, 
and security system design and installation under the contract, in 
addition to performing administrative services under the joint venture, 
such as accounting and contract administration. BPI is to provide 
program management, warehousing, computer resource, and procurement 
services. EmbSEC's only source of revenue is its contract with State. 

We received a tip on our fraud hotline regarding the EmbSEC 
contract.[Footnote 1] The objectives of our review, conducted under the 
authority of the Comptroller General to conduct evaluations on his own 
initiative, were to determine (1) the basis for awarding the contract 
without competition, (2) the effect of treating travel costs, which 
comprise a large portion of contract costs, as firm, fixed-price, and 
(3) whether contract administration is being effectively carried out. 
We are sending a separate management letter to the Administrator of the 
Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding this contract.[Footnote 


RDR has been performing security installation work for State for a 
number of years, dating back to work it performed as a subcontractor 
beginning in 1987. When its first contract as the prime contractor-- 
which had been awarded in 1992 and included a base year plus 4 option 
years--was about to expire, RDR requested that State expedite the 
solicitation for the follow-on contract so that the company would be 
eligible to compete for it before graduating from the 8(a) program. RDR 
was the only 8(a) offeror for that contract, subcontracting with 
DynCorp, International.[Footnote 3] The contract also had a 5-year 
period of performance. In preparation for the 2003 contract award, 
State officials wanted RDR to continue the security installation work, 
and RDR subsequently partnered with BPI, an 8(a) firm, under an 8(a) 
joint venture. DynCorp is again the subcontractor. 

The 8(a) program is one of the federal government's primary means for 
developing small businesses owned by socially and economically 
disadvantaged individuals. Firms approved as 8(a) participants can 
receive business development assistance from SBA but may only 
participate in the 8(a) program for a maximum of 9 years. Contracting 
officers can award contracts to 8(a) firms without competition below 
certain dollar thresholds--namely up to $5 million for manufacturing 
and up to $3 million for all other contracts. SBA's Associate 
Administrator for 8(a) Business Development may accept a requirement 
for a sole-source award above these thresholds if there is not a 
reasonable expectation that at least two eligible 8(a) participants 
will submit offers at a fair price. 

State's Security Management Division within the Bureau of Overseas 
Buildings Operations (OBO) is the program office that requested the 
security installation services. OBO directs the worldwide overseas 
buildings program for State. For the EmbSEC contract, contracting 
officer's representatives (COR) within OBO prepare statements of the 
work to be performed under each task order and review the contractor's 
proposals. The contract was initially awarded as a time-and-materials 
contract.[Footnote 4] This contract type may be used only when it is 
not possible at the time of contract award to estimate accurately the 
extent or duration of the work or to anticipate costs with any 
reasonable degree of confidence. In November 2003, the contract was 
modified bilaterally to convert it to an indefinite delivery/indefinite 
quantity contract with firm, fixed-price task orders, with an effective 
date of December 1, 2003.[Footnote 5] The contract type was changed to 
help control costs after overruns were experienced in the first year. 
The contract provides for indefinite quantity, within stated limits, of 
supplies or services during a fixed period, with the government placing 
task orders under the contract for individual requirements. Because the 
orders under this contract are firm, fixed-price, once the price is 
approved by the government, it is not subject to adjustment on the 
basis of the contractor's cost experience. Thus, firm, fixed-price 
contracts place upon the contractor maximum risk and full 
responsibility for all costs and resulting profit or loss. The 
contract's period of performance includes the base year and 4 option 
years. To date, 3 option years have been exercised and, according to 
State officials, 258 task orders had been issued as of August 2006. 

Results in Brief: 

State relied on a waiver of 8(a) competitive thresholds, granted by SBA 
in 2001, to award the sole-source contract to EmbSEC. An SBA official 
approved the waiver on behalf of the Associate Administrator for 8(a) 
Business Development.[Footnote 6] However, the waiver was improper 
because SBA was not authorized to grant it. SBA can only authorize sole-
source 8(a) awards above the competitive thresholds (1) for specific 
procurements and (2) if it determines that other 8(a) firms cannot 
compete for the requirement. In this case, SBA authorized State to make 
sole-source 8(a) awards in any amount for contracts that "supplement 
the security of U.S. Government diplomatic posts and protect the lives 
of Departmental personnel." The waiver was not tied to a specific 
procurement, but was a blanket waiver that could be applied to any 
contract pertaining to security at diplomatic posts. SBA headquarters 
officials were unaware of the waiver until we brought it to their 
attention; they agreed that it was improper. State incorporated the 
waiver in its procurement regulation in April 2004, but officials told 
us it has been used only for the EmbSEC contract. It is not clear why 
State relied on the waiver instead of using competitive procedures to 
award the 2003 contract. Five years earlier, when RDR was awarded the 
prior contract as the only 8(a) offerer, the contracting officer 
expressed concern with the lack of competition, noting that "it would 
be in the best interest of the government to re- compete this 
requirement at the earliest practical time." State officials indicated 
to us that a number of companies could perform this work. 

Using a firm, fixed-price, rather than cost-reimbursable, arrangement 
for travel costs has had unintended consequences under this contract, 
leading to instances where the government has paid far more than the 
contractor's actual costs in airfare, per diem, excess baggage, and 
other travel costs, in addition to the contractor's negotiated profit 
rate. For example, the contractor priced its proposal to include 23 
travelers for work in Baghdad, Iraq. However, only 10 actually made the 
trip, and the government paid $380,000 more than the contractor's 
incurred costs, according to a State analysis. According to contractor 
representatives and government officials, accurately estimating travel 
costs is difficult because travel under this contract is highly 
unpredictable. Often it is not known ahead of time when the travel will 
occur or how long it will last. Contractor representatives explained 
that they must cover the risk of this unpredictability in preparing 
their task order proposals and that they can never be certain all of 
their costs will be covered. CORs in OBO told us they review the 
reasonableness of the contractor's proposed technical approach and 
number of hours for each task order but not the number of travelers. 
Since we began this review, OBO officials said they are paying 
increased attention to the contractor's proposed travel costs. The 
contracting officer recently negotiated a contract clause that allows 
the government to recover unused travel funds after work is completed, 
but the clause has not yet been invoked because work under recent task 
orders has not been completed. 

According to contracting officials, they have struggled to administer 
this contract and exercise appropriate oversight. For example, after 
the contractor notified State of accidental errors it had made in 
pricing its proposals, the contracting office took initial steps in 
November 2005 to request an audit by the Defense Contract Audit Agency 
due to concerns about the pricing errors and other aspects of the 
contract, such as travel costs.[Footnote 7] However, the office has not 
followed up to actually get the audit under way because it lacked the 
staff to do so. Much of the contracting officer's time has been taken 
up with resolving disagreements with the contractor. In July 2006, 
EmbSEC complained to State about a large number of outstanding requests 
for adjustments to task order prices, some of which are more than a 
year old, and $2.8 million in work completed or partially completed 
without a corresponding contractual document under which it could 
submit invoices. State officials told us they have recently taken 
actions in response, such as permitting partial funding for work begun 
before final negotiations on all price components are complete. We also 
found that the contracting office was not monitoring the percentage of 
the work being performed by the subcontractor as opposed to the 8(a) 
joint venture. 

We are making several recommendations, pertaining to competition, 
travel costs, contract type, and contract administration. We also are 
recommending that State delete reference to the blanket waiver from its 
acquisition regulation. In written comments on a draft of this report, 
State concurred with our recommendations and made additional comments, 
which we address in the agency comments section of this letter. State's 
comments are reproduced in their entirety in appendix I. We also 
received technical comments from EmbSEC and RDR, Inc., which we 
incorporated as appropriate. 

Basis for the Sole-Source Award Was an Improper SBA Waiver: 

On September 18, 2001, State requested that SBA waive 8(a) competitive 
thresholds for contracts that "supplement the security of U.S. 
Government diplomatic posts and protect the lives of Departmental 
personnel." An SBA official approved the waiver on behalf of the 
Associate Administrator for 8(a) Business Development the next day to 
apply "for the duration of the national state of emergency" as declared 
by the President; the waiver contains no expiration date. This waiver 
was improper because SBA was not authorized to issue it. SBA can waive 
the competitive thresholds for a specific contract opportunity after 
determining that there is not a reasonable expectation that at least 
two eligible 8(a) participants will submit offers at a fair 
price[Footnote 8] but was not authorized to approve a blanket waiver, 
as was done here. In its letter approving the waiver, SBA agreed that 
"it is not reasonable that the Department of State would have the time 
to advertise, evaluate and negotiate with several contractors to obtain 
reasonable pricing." State, however, had identified no specific 
requirement under which this would be the case. State officials said 
they interpret the waiver as a "security policy" after the September 
2001 terrorist attacks and never viewed it as pertaining to a specific 
requirement. SBA's Associate Administrator for 8(a) Business 
Development and a representative from SBA's Office of General Counsel 
were not aware of the waiver until we brought it to their attention. 
They agreed that it was improper. 

State made the waiver authority effective on September 19, 2001, via a 
procurement information bulletin. It was subsequently incorporated in 
State's acquisition regulation[Footnote 9] on April 13, 2004, so that, 
according to officials, it would be more visible to contracting 
officers. Officials from State's Office of Small Business Utilization 
and from the contracting office told us the EmbSEC contract is the only 
one that has been awarded under the waiver. 

It is unclear why State did not use competitive procedures to award 
this contract. State contracting officers had raised concerns in the 
past about the lack of competition for the security installation work. 
In recommending RDR for the 1998 contract award as the only 8(a) 
offerer under a competitive solicitation, the contracting officer noted 
that RDR had been either the prime or subcontractor on contracts to 
provide these services for the past 10 years. The contracting officer 
expressed concern with the lack of competition and concluded that "it 
would be in the best interest of the government to re-compete this 
requirement at the earliest practical time." CORs in OBO indicated to 
us that a number of companies could perform the security installation 
work. Nevertheless, State's desire to continue contracting with RDR 
after it had graduated from the 8(a) program led RDR to seek out an 
8(a) company with which to form a joint venture for the follow-on, sole-
source contract. After the first year of the contract, the contracting 
officer decided to initiate a competitive 8(a) acquisition rather than 
extend the contract another year, citing unresolved pricing issues and 
"mounting evidence" that negotiated rates were significantly higher 
than rates for similar services on other contracts. However, State 
eventually reopened negotiations with EmbSEC and was able to reach 
agreement on a pricing structure that the contracting officer 
determined to be fair and reasonable. 

Fixed-Price for Travel Has Led to Unintended Consequences: 

Changing the contract type from time-and-materials to one with firm, 
fixed-price task orders was well intentioned, because time-and- 
materials contracts provide no positive profit incentive to the 
contractor for cost control or labor efficiency. However, treating 
travel as a fixed-price item has led to unintended consequences. 
According to the contracting officer, travel costs typically account 
for 30 to 45 percent of the task order price. Because travel is fixed- 
price and not cost-reimbursable, the government pays airfare and other 
associated travel costs for the number of travelers proposed for each 
task order, regardless of the actual costs the contractor incurs. 
According to our review of the contract file and discussions with State 
personnel, there have been instances where the contractor has proposed 
a number of travelers that turned out to be more than actually 
traveled, and the government has thus paid for trips that did not 
occur. For example, for work in Baghdad, Iraq, the contractor's price 
proposal reflected 23 travelers, but only 10 actually traveled. For 
work in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 12 travelers were proposed and only 5 
traveled. In the case of Baghdad, a State official calculated that the 
government paid at least $380,000 more than incurred costs. Contractor 
representatives told us that the proposed 23 travelers were for two 
separate Baghdad projects that they expected to run concurrently. 
However, due to schedule delays, the same technician staff ended up 
being used for both projects back-to-back. They pointed out that the 
opposite situation has also occurred, where the actual number of 
travelers exceeded the number in the task order proposal. However, a 
November 2005 analysis by State found that six of seven travel status 
reports submitted by the contractor showed that fewer travelers 
actually made the trips than were proposed. 

The Federal Acquisition Regulation provides that a firm, fixed-price 
contract be used in certain circumstances, such as when available cost 
or pricing information permits realistic estimates of the probable 
costs of performance.[Footnote 10] Firm, fixed-price contracts are 
suitable for acquiring supplies or services on the basis of reasonably 
definite functional or detailed specifications when the contracting 
officer can establish fair and reasonable prices at the outset. State 
officials and contractor representatives agree that travel under this 
contract is very unpredictable. It is often not known in advance when 
the travel will occur under each task order or how long it will last. 
Frequently, schedules are changed with little notice. For example, 
general contractors at the embassy sites must complete their work 
before installation of security equipment can begin. If the general 
contractor is behind schedule, EmbSEC's trip must be postponed. 
Sometimes schedule slips cause the contractor to send fewer people for 
a longer period of time to complete the work. 

Contractor representatives told us they must consider the 
unpredictability of travel costs when pricing their proposals and, 
while they furnish an estimate that they believe to be fair and 
reasonable, they can never be certain that all of their costs will be 
covered due to the extreme uncertainty involved. The contractor 
maintains that the government is paying a fixed price to successfully 
complete a technical installation that is approved at the post and that 
schedule and other changes beyond its control frequently occur after 
the project plan has been submitted. According to the contractor, such 
changes can force resources to be adjusted to accomplish the work on 
time and can result in situations where fewer or more travelers than 
proposed are needed. Most of the CORs we spoke with, who have extensive 
technical experience installing these systems in the field, told us 
that they focus on the labor hours required to complete a task and the 
technical aspects of the proposals, such as what equipment is 
necessary; they do not typically assess the reasonableness of the 
proposed number of travelers. 

Another issue related to travel costs pertains to excess baggage 
handling fees. These fees are intended to cover the contractor's 
expenses associated with transporting equipment overseas. According to 
contractor representatives and State officials, the tools and equipment 
needed under this contract can be very large and bulky, requiring 
additional fees to transport them in and out of the countries of 
destination. The contractor's proposals for 200 task orders between 
December 2003 and July 2005 reflected a fixed price per traveler for 
excess baggage fees that some State officials believed was too high. 
State paid this price until it requested information on actual costs, 
which turned out to be much less. An OBO official calculated that State 
overpaid $1.2 million during this 1 1/2 year period. Contractor 
representatives explained that excess baggage fees are extremely 
variable and unpredictable and that this risk must be considered when 
they price their proposals. However, the contractor agreed to include 
the lower estimate in subsequent proposals. 

The issue of travel costs has been a contentious one for State and the 
contractor. In 2004, State's contracting officer attempted to change 
travel to a cost-reimbursable expense, which would have removed the fee 
the contractor was including in its travel costs. The contractor would 
not agree without receiving consideration in return, stating that doing 
so would undermine the agreed-upon fee structure of the contract, under 
which air transportation and lodging were fee-bearing. In negotiating 
the most recent contract option year, which began in March 2006, the 
contracting officer again intended to convert travel to a cost- 
reimbursable item, and in fact, the contractor's proposal for that 
option year did reflect some portions of travel as cost-reimbursable. 
Ultimately, however, the contracting officer decided that the 
contractor would have no incentive to keep travel costs down under a 
cost-reimbursable arrangement and continued to include it as fixed- 
price. However, a new contract clause was inserted that allows recovery 
of unused travel funds after order completion. According to the 
contracting officer, the clause has not been invoked to date, because 
work under the current task orders is still ongoing. OBO officials told 
us they are now tracking travel costs more closely. 

Difficulties Keeping Pace with Contract Administration Workload: 

The extensive activity on this contract and the variety of projects 
involved call for a significant amount of oversight. From our reviews 
of contract documents and interviews with current and prior contracting 
officers, it appears that the contracting office has had difficulty 
keeping pace with the contract administration workload. For example, 
after the contractor notified the government of accidental errors it 
had made in pricing its proposals, in which it was charging the 
government for government-furnished equipment,[Footnote 11] the 
contracting office contacted the Defense Contract Audit Agency in 
November 2005. Due to concerns about the pricing errors, as well as 
other aspects of the contract such as travel costs, the office 
requested an audit of the contractor's estimating system, overhead 
rates, and incurred costs for selected task orders. As of this date, 
however, the audit has not been initiated because, according to the 
contracting officer, he lacks the staff to follow up with the audit 
agency. Recently, State officials told us they plan to turn their 
attention once again to getting the audit underway. 

Three additional aspects of this contract have required substantial 
time and effort on the part of the contracting staff: the high number 
of undefinitized task orders (that is, actions for which the contract 
terms, specifications, or prices are not agreed to before performance 
begins); contractor requests for payment adjustments based on such 
things as changes to scope or unforeseen schedule delays; and 
monitoring the extent of work the subcontractor is performing under the 

* Undefinitized contract actions authorize the contractor to begin work 
immediately, before the contract's terms are definitized. 
Definitization of the contract's terms is to occur at the earliest 
practicable date. State officials explained that undefinitized orders 
have occurred under this contract because projects must be kept on 
schedule while negotiations are still under way. According to a 
contracting officer previously involved with the contract, she spent 
months working to definitize 96 task orders. In a July 2006 letter to 
State, the contractor complained that it could not invoice for $2.8 
million in work completed or partially completed under notices to 
proceed, pending definitization. State officials told us that, in 
response, they have changed their procedures and will now permit 
partial funding under undefinitized contract actions for such things as 
long-lead equipment, even if negotiations on other components of the 
price--such as travel costs--are still ongoing. 

* The contractor has requested over $3 million in adjustments to 
payments because of what it claims are changes in scope or delays for 
which it was not responsible. Almost 80 of these items are outstanding, 
and some of the requests for payment adjustments date back more than a 
year. The contracting officer told us that it takes a lot of time to 
sort through the details of these requests and that often only the 
project manager on site has the specific information needed. State 
officials said that in the time since the July 2006 letter was written, 
they have made 22 adjustments for $3.15 million, with additional 
requests for payment negotiated and approved and waiting for funding. 

* The contracting office is not monitoring the percentage of the work 
being performed by DynCorp, the subcontractor, as opposed to the work 
being performed by EmbSEC. Because this is an 8(a) contract for 
services, the joint venture is required to incur at least 50 percent of 
the personnel costs with its own employees.[Footnote 12] The purpose of 
this requirement, which limits the amount of work that can be performed 
by the subcontractor, is to ensure that small businesses do not pass 
along the benefits of their contracts to their subcontractors. 
According to contractor representatives, an agreement is in place to 
ensure that DynCorp performs 40 percent of the work. When we brought 
the limitation on subcontracting requirement to State's attention, the 
contracting officials said they do have a mechanism to track 
subcontracting activity and that they will start doing so under this 
contract. A recent subcontracting activity report, submitted by EmbSEC, 
shows that subcontracting has not exceeded the contract's limitation on 
subcontracting percentage. 


Given the continued uncertainties surrounding security needs at U.S. 
embassies, State's desire for flexibilities in contracting for security 
installation is understandable. However, this desire does not obviate 
the need to use competitive contracting procedures to the extent 
possible and to establish firm terms and conditions for contract 
actions as soon as feasible. The recent inclusion of the contract 
clause allowing government recovery of unused travel funds is a step in 
the right direction toward addressing some of the problems we 
identified, but its implementation needs to be monitored to ensure that 
it accomplishes the intended goal. In the interim, a re-assessment of 
the contract type is called for, given the uncertainties associated 
with travel costs under this contract. In addition, a contract this 
complex carries with it a certain amount of risk that must be mitigated 
by careful government oversight and monitoring of contractor 
performance, including timely definitization of task orders. 

We are making recommendations to SBA in a separate letter. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To help manage risk under this contract, we recommend that the Under 
Secretary for Management direct the Director of the Bureau of OBO and 
the Assistant Secretary for Administration to take the following five 

* compete the requirement at the earliest feasible opportunity; 

* closely monitor travel expenses incurred by the contractor, and take 
necessary steps to promptly recover unused travel funds after task 
order completion; 

* reevaluate the contract type, in light of unpredictable travel costs; 

* assess the workload of the contracting office to determine whether 
changes are needed to keep up with the contract administration 
workload, including timely definitization of contract actions; and: 

* delete reference to the improper September 19, 2001 blanket waiver 
from State's acquisition regulation. 

Agency Comments: 

In written comments on a draft of this report, State agreed with our 
findings and recommendations, stating that it is developing an 
acquisition plan to compete the requirement and that it does not plan 
to exercise the last option year under the contract. During the 
recompetition, it will carefully consider the contract type. State said 
that it is also more closely evaluating the contractor's proposed 
travel costs and that it intends to assess the workload of the 
contracting office. Finally, State will amend its acquisition 
regulation to remove reference to the blanket waiver. 

State also suggested that we disassociate the footnote on page one, 
regarding our fraud hotline, from the statement of our reporting 
objectives or that we clarify that we did not find fraud, waste, abuse, 
or mismanagement. The intent of the footnote is simply to describe the 
purpose of FraudNET for the general reader. That being said, we believe 
our findings do point to some mismanagement issues that could have led 
to waste of government funds. State also questioned the accuracy of two 
statements in the report, pertaining to its interest in retaining RDR 
for the follow-on contract and to the reason the contracting office 
requested assistance from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Both of 
these statements are correct as written. State did seek to retain RDR 
specifically for the follow-on work. The contracting officer who 
inquired about the audit did so after the pricing errors reported by 
the contractor, viewing the pricing errors as one of several concerns 
with the contract. We added a sentence to the report to clarify this 
point. State's comment letter is reproduced in appendix I of this 

We also received comments from EmbSEC and RDR, which we incorporated 
where appropriate. 

Scope and Methodology: 

We analyzed documents in State's EmbSEC contract files as well as the 
prior contract with RDR. We reviewed pertinent sections of the Federal 
Acquisition Regulation and State's supplement. We interviewed State 
contracting officials in the Facilities Design and Construction 
Division within the Office of Logistics/Acquisitions Management and 
program officials in the Security Management Division, Bureau of OBO. 
We also met with contractor representatives. We held discussions with 
SBA officials and reviewed pertinent small business regulations. We 
conducted our review from May 2006 to August 2006 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards. Key contributors to 
this correspondence were Michele Mackin, Assistant Director; John 
Krump; Sylvia Schatz; and Tatiana Winger. 


Signed by: 

Katherine V. Schinasi, Managing Director: 
Acquisition and Sourcing Management: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of State: 

United States Department of State: 
Assistant Secretary for Resource Management and Chief Financial 
Washington, D.C. 20520: 

Ms. Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers: 
Managing Director: 
International Affairs and Trade: 
Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001: 

OCT 2 6 2006: 

Dear Ms. Williams-Bridgers: 

We appreciate the opportunity to review your draft report, "Department 
of State Contract for Security Installation at Embassies," GAO Job Code 

The enclosed Department of State comments are provided for 
incorporation with this letter as an appendix to the final report. 

If you have any questions concerning this response, please contact 
Christina Maier, Management Program Analyst, Bureau of Overseas 
Building Operations at (703) 875-5752 or Walter Cate, Division Chief, 
Bureau of Administration at 703-875-56286. 


Signed by: 

Bradford R. Higgins: 

cc: GAO - Michele Mackin: 
OBO - Charles Williams: 
State/OIG - Mark Duda: 

Department of State Comments on the GAO Draft Letter Report Department 
of State Contract for Security Installation at Embassies (GAO-07-34R, 
GAO Code 120569): 


Thank you for the opportunity to review this draft letter report. 
Overall, we concur with GAO's findings and observations. State has a 
few specific comments on some of the facts as reported; our comments 
are set out below. 

1. Page 1, 3rd paragraph, on the following language and footnote: 

We received a tip on our fraud hotline regarding the EmbSEC contract. 

[1] The purpose of GAO's FraudNET is to facilitate reporting of 
allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of federal funds. 
Allegations are received via e-mail at 

DOS comment: As this paragraph is currently structured, the reader 
might be left with an unduly negative impression. While a "fraud 
hotline" tip led to GAO's review of the EmbSec contract, it is State's 
understanding that some or all of the specific allegations that 
triggered the inquiry were subsequently proved to be erroneous, or at 
least overstated. If that was the case, we would suggest that the first 
sentence and the accompanying footnote be disjoined from the balance of 
the paragraph, perhaps with some additional clarifying remarks that 
GAO, in its study, did not find fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement. 

We acknowledge, as GAO has documented in its report, that there have 
been problems and some complicated issues addressed in both the 
formation and administration of the contract. That said, we would also 
point out that this critical worldwide security program has been 
carried out-with overall success-by the Department and its contractor 
under difficult and even dangerous circumstances. One particularly 
stark example was the situation encountered in Baghdad. In addition to 
gunfire in the vicinity, a mortar shell hit the palace as EmbSec's 
employees were working at that location. In sum, we do not believe that 
the events and actions described in the draft report can properly be 
categorized as "fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement." 

2. Page 2, 1st paragraph, the following language: 

In preparation for the 2003 contract award, State officials wanted RDR 
to continue the security installation work, and RDR subsequently 
partnered with BPI, an 8(a) firm, under an 8(a) joint venture. 

DOS Comment: We suggest that this sentence be re-worded to reflect that 
the Department did not have an interest in specifically retaining RDR; 
rather we had an interest, in the 2003 time frame, to maintain our 
capabilities without risking a period of time when we would not be able 
to support our programs or more importantly react to an emergency. 
Unless GAO has actual evidence that the primary motivation of one or 
more Department officials was specifically for "RDR to continue the 
security installation work," we would ask that the sentence be modified 
to reflect more accurately the then-existing situation, e.g., "In 
preparation for the 2003 contract award, State officials realized a 
need to maintain their program capabilities and be able to react to 
emergencies. RDR subsequently partnered with BPI,..." 

3. Page 6, 3rd paragraph: 

DOS Comment: We do not believe that Paragraph 3 on page 6 is accurate. 
The reason State requested a DCAA audit was not due to the double 
billing for equipment as the draft states. The double billing episode 
was addressed and resolved as stated in footnote no. 10. The third 
sentence from the end of the paragraph should state: 

"For Example, the contracting office contacted the Defense Contract 
Audit Agency in November 2005 to request an audit of the contractor's 
estimating system, overhead rates, and incurred costs for a selected 
task order in order to determine if overcharges existed in relation to 
travel/excess baggage and to determine if any of the overcharges were 
recoverable. The audit was requested through the Department of State 
Office of Inspector General on September 15, 2006. According to the 
contracting officer, the delay in requesting the audit was due to a 
shortage of staff and the need to address priorities." 

4. Page 8, Recommendations for Executive Action, 1st sentence: 

DOS Comment: Please change the first sentence to read,..."we recommend 
that the Under Secretary for Management, the Director of the Bureau of 
OBO, and the Assistant Secretary for Administration take the following 
five actions." 

5. Page 8, Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Recommendation 1 - compete the requirement at the earliest feasible 

DOS Comment: We concur. OBO's Security Management Division prepared a 
Decision Memorandum for the OBO Director and, citing GAO's draft 
report, recommended, "That the Department not exercise the last option 
year on the EmbSEC contract and that OBO move forward with discussions 
with A/LM to develop and finalize a comprehensive Acquisition Plan for 
Security Installation Services." OBO Director General Williams approved 
the recommendation on October 2, 2006. The following day (October 3), 
representatives from the DOS Bureau of Administration's Office of 
Acquisitions Management (A/LM/AQM) - the cognizant contracting office- 
and the OBO Security Management Division held the initial acquisition 
planning session and preliminarily agreed on an overall strategy to 
compete the requirement, while concurrently ensuring that critical 
security program objectives continue to be addressed. We ask that GAO 
include this updated information in its report. 

Recommendation 2 - closely monitor travel expenses incurred by the 
contractor, and take necessary steps to promptly recover unused travel 
funds after task order completion; 

DOS Comment: As stated elsewhere in the report, OBO officials are now 
more closely evaluating travel costs proposed by EmbSEC. Furthermore, a 
contract clause was incorporated into the contract that allows the 
government to recover unexpended travel funds after work is completed. 
DOS will continue to carefully monitor travel expenses and recover 
unused obligations as appropriate. 

Recommendation 3 - reevaluate the contract type, in light of 
unpredictable travel costs; 

DOS Comment: The contract type will be carefully considered during the 
recompetition of this requirement. 

Recommendation 4 - assess the workload of the contracting office to 
determine whether changes are needed to keep up with the contract 
administration workload, including timely definitization of contract 
actions; and: 

DOS Comment: Concur: 

Recommendation 5 - delete reference to the improper September 19, 2001 
blanket waiver from State's acquisition regulation. 

DOS Comment: The waiver provided by the Small Business Administration 
was assumed to be proper and was honored by the Department in good 
faith. The Department of State Acquisition Regulation will be amended 
to remove any reference to this exception to Section 8(a) competition 

[End of Section] 



[1] The purpose of GAO's FraudNET is to facilitate reporting of 
allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of federal funds. 
Allegations are received via e-mail at 

[2] GAO, State Department Contract for Security Installation at 
Embassies Awarded to 8(a) Joint Venture, GAO-07-33R (Washington, D.C.: 
Nov. 8, 2006). 

[3] DynCorp was acquired by Computer Sciences Corporation in 2003. 

[4] Time-and-materials contracts provide for acquiring supplies or 
services on the basis of (1) direct labor hours at specified fixed 
hourly rates that include wages, overhead, general and administrative 
expenses, and profit and (2) materials at cost. Federal Acquisition 
Regulation (FAR) 16.601(a)(1) and (2) (2006). 

[5] The contract also provides for time-and-materials task orders. 
However, according to the contracting officer, the vast majority of the 
orders issued to date have been fixed-price. 

[6] The official who approved the waiver is no longer with SBA. 

[7] The Defense Contract Audit Agency performs contract audits for the 
Department of Defense. The agency also provides contract audit services 
to some other government agencies. 

[8] 13 C.F.R.124.506(d) (2001). These standards remain in place. See 13 
C.F.R. 124.506(d) (2006). 

[9] Department of State Acquisition Regulation, 48 C.F.R. 619.805-2 

[10] FAR16.202-2 (2006). 

[11] In August 2005, the State Department Inspector General found the 
potential for double billing for government-furnished equipment on over 
90 task orders. In one example, the contractor charged the government 
for an $112,000 X-ray machine, which was later identified as government-
furnished equipment. Price reductions and cash refunds from the 
contractor of almost $1.4 million resulted from the investigation, but 
no criminal or administrative misconduct was found. Contractor 
representatives attributed the problem to employee error. 

[12] FAR 52.219-14; 13 C.F.R. 124.510 and 13 C.F.R. 125.6. 

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