Justice Can Improve Its Contract Review Committee's Contribution to Better Contracting

GGD-84-97: Published: Sep 28, 1984. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated how successful the Department of Justice's Contract Review Committee (CRC) has been in conducting preaward reviews of contracts over $100,000, sole-source contracts over $50,000, and potentially controversial contracts.

GAO found that Justice contracting officials believe that CRC has improved the Justice contracts which it reviewed and improved Justice contracting practices. CRC found deficiencies in 162 of the 307 contracts it reviewed during fiscal year (FY) 1983, and 93 percent of these deficiencies were subsequently addressed by the procuring organization. GAO noted that the CRC rejection of about 53 percent of the FY 1983 contracts reviewed showed that, despite its efforts, problems still exist with Justice's contracting practices. Further, only 89 percent of the contracts that should have been submitted to CRC were received. GAO concluded that, although there is some concern among contracting officials with CRC operations, it has generally been an effective tool for improving agency contract practices.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Procurement Executive plans to periodically prepare written summaries of frequently found contract deficiencies and distribute them throughout Justice. He also plans to provide written guidance and then supplement that guidance with periodic oral presentations.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct CRC to make periodic oral presentations of its findings to contracting officials.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to the Procurement Exective, Justice's procurement units were told to submit all contracts, including those types listed in this recommendation, for review when they exceed $100,000. For sole source procurements, the threshold is $50,000.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should clarify Justice's policy to delineate the types of contracts that should be submitted to CRC so as to ensure that CRC receives all contracts it should review. These types of contracts should include: (1) letter contracts; (2) purchases of various specific services, such as expert witnesses; (3) exercise of options; and (4) contracts with indefinite dollar amounts estimated to be above the CRC threshold.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Procurement Executive plans to analyze the types of procurement weaknesses noted during its preaward reviews and take actions to remedy the policy oversight or training deficiencies noted.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Procurement Executive to use CRC findings when developing strategies for carrying out procurement inspections and other oversight functions, such as deciding who and what to inspect, and for establishing the training component of, and training materials for, a career management program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Based on recommendations by GAO and certain Justice organizations, Justice decided to have its Procurement Executive report to the Assistant Attorney General for Administration rather than a lower level Justice official.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should have the Procurement Executive report to a level no lower than the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Administration.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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