The Postal Service Will Reduce Body Armor Costs by Purchasing Competitively

GGD-82-19: Published: Jan 27, 1982. Publicly Released: Jan 27, 1982.

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GAO reported on the restrictive conditions and specifications in the Postal Service Inspection Service's purchase of soft body armor, or vests, on a sole-source basis.

A review of procurement data did not support an Inspection Service decision to purchase armor vests on a sole-source basis. GAO found that there are many vests which provide the level of life protection required by the Inspection Service. Even if sources for the purchase were limited to suppliers on General Services Administration contracts, at least four models which meet the protection and quality requirements and cost less than the model which the Inspection Service purchased would be available. For fiscal year 1982 and subsequent purchases, the Inspection Service has stated that it will select its supplier from among all the manufacturers meeting its requirements. Two overly restrictive requirements will be removed from the specifications on future procurements; and these will be replaced by functional statements of needs which require vests providing specific, measurable levels of life protection and a manufacturing process that includes quality control testing in accordance with national standards, without specifying how these conditions will be achieved. For fiscal year 1982 and beyond, the Inspection Service will purchase the least expensive model which meets its needs through competitive procurement.

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