Mandate on the Department of Defense's Contract Award Procedures for Directed Spending Items

GAO-09-113R: Published: Nov 19, 2008. Publicly Released: Nov 19, 2008.

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Section 830 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 directed GAO to compare procedures used for awarding noncompetitive defense contracts for new projects pursuant to (1) congressionally directed spending items or congressional earmarks and (2) the special interests of senior executive branch officials.

As communicated with congressional staff in July and August 2008, despite our diligent efforts in exploring various approaches, we have concluded that it is not feasible for us to address the mandate as written. First, we have not found a methodologically sound approach for systematically identifying "new projects of special interest to senior executive branch officials." Second, we were unable to apply the definitions of "congressionally directed spending items" and "congressional earmarks" recently incorporated in Senate and House Rules, respectively, because of data availability and timing issues. Finally, with these underlying constraints, the comparison of procedures called for in the mandate was not possible. The following sections summarize the approaches we explored and the reasons they were not feasible.

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