National Institute of Education's Procurement Practices

HRD-86-1: Published: Jan 17, 1986. Publicly Released: Feb 18, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Institute of Education's (NIE) contract award process, focusing on its activities for fiscal year (FY) 1983.

GAO reviewed a sample of 21 of the 33 negotiated contracts that NIE awarded through competitive requests for proposals and found: (1) no evidence that the number of proposals received, prices, cost ranges, or government cost estimates were disclosed during the evaluation process to any offerer that responded to the requests for proposals; and (2) that NIE awarded 5 negotiated cost-reimbursement contracts to other than the lowest offerers. However, the awards of these contracts were not inconsistent since federal procurement regulations do not require negotiated contracts to be awarded to the lowest-cost offerer. GAO also found that, in FY 1983: (1) the NIE Director, who has legal authority to enter into contracts and discretion to exercise that authority, made a decision to award nine contracts to plan a new educational laboratory; (2) NIE awarded 52 new contracts, of which it awarded 14 noncompetitively; and (3) NIE failed to properly justify 4 of the noncompetitive awards. Of the 175 Department of Education employees involved in the procurements that GAO examined, only 1 employee subsequently worked for the specific contractor he was involved with. NIE has drafted an acquisition policies and procedures handbook which establishes uniform policies and procedures for its procurements.

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