Comments on S. 719

B-199499: Published: Jul 22, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1981.

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Proposed legislation was reviewed which would accomplish the following: (1) amend existing legislation to clarify the authority for appointment and compensation of experts and consultants; and (2) provide statutory guidelines concerning the award of contracts for the procurement of consulting services, management and professional services, and special studies and analyses. While GAO believes that the proper use of consulting services is a legitimate and economical way to conduct Government operations, it sees little evidence that agencies have acted administratively to correct abuses which have existed for some time. Normally, GAO does not support legislative remedies for problems that could be resolved administratively; however, since agencies have not acted administratively, congressional action is necessary. GAO, therefore, would support the proposed legislation if certain changes were made. Specific information required by the bill regarding contractor reports would be useful, but it would require more disclosure provisions and would show the potential for contractor personnel to influence the report's conclusions and recommendations. While GAO strongly supports the need to evaluate and assess the quality of consulting services, it believes that these evaluations should be approved by an agency official at least two levels above that of the program manager responsible for monitoring the consultant's performance. GAO feels that a conflict of interest provision is necessary in this type of legislation, but that it should be tested for a period of time before applying it on a Government-wide basis. While GAO agrees that Congress should have a more detailed report on the President's budget, it feels that more detailed information on individual services should be given to Congress, not just those management and consultant services covered by the bill. Federal Procurement Data Systems' contract classification should be (1) contracts for goods, and (2) contracts for service. Categories already in use should be used to describe these contracts. Each agency should be required to provide a brief description of how it would benefit from the services provided under contract.

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