Certain Personal Services Contracts Administered by the Office of Foreign Buildings Operations Are Unauthorized

ID-80-55: Published: Aug 8, 1980. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1980.

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GAO became aware of the practice of using contracts, rather than civil service appointing procedures, to obtain the services of administrative and support-type personnel in the headquarters of the Office of Foreign Buildings Operations (FBO). The work of these individuals is supervised by government employees. The functions they perform are similar to those performed by government employees whose positions are classified under the General Schedule. Their conditions of employment are for the most part indistinguishable from those of government employees.

GAO is of the opinion that the practice is not authorized by law or regulation. A statute authorizes the obtaining of architectural and other expert technical services only; the kinds of services described do not qualify as expert services under the prescribed criteria. The purpose of the law is to obtain services abroad, not in the Washington, D.C. area. These individuals occupy positions which should have been filled in accordance with civil service laws and not by contract. When it is economical, feasible, or necessary for reason of unusual circumstances to have purely personal services for the government performed by non-government parties, such services may be procured through proper contract arrangement. It is clear that the relationship between FBO and the individuals in question is an employer-employee relationship and that these individuals are not independent contractors. This being so, GAO believes that the services in question should have been obtained in accordance with civil service laws and that obtaining such services by contract is a violation of these laws.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Office of Foreign Building Operations should terminate the existing contracts for personal services of the type discussed and should adopt a plan of action to avoid such contracts in the future.

    Agency Affected:


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