Non-Competed Contracts: Actions Are Needed to Improve Internal Control
OIG-20-2: Sep 18, 2020
Tonya R. Ford
GAO's policy and procedures generally promote competition when soliciting offers and awarding contracts, and follow the Federal Acquisition Regulation when competition is not possible.
However, the OIG identified gaps in GAO's policy, procedures, and internal control specific to non-competed contracts. These include gaps in documentation for key roles and responsibilities, errors in reported competition data, and deficiencies in key control activities, such as acquisition planning and the review of contractor proposals. OIG is making five recommendations intended to address these gaps in awarding non-competitive contracts.
Tonya R. Ford
This is a publication by GAO's Inspector General that concerns internal GAO operations. This report assesses the extent to which GAO maintained adequate internal control over non-competed contracts. This report contains recommendations.
What OIG Found
While federal statute and acquisition regulations generally require that contracts be awarded on the basis of competition, they also permit federal agencies to award non-competed contracts in certain circumstances. GAO has generally established policy and procedures to promote and provide for competition in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) when awarding contracts. However; GAO needs to define, document and fully implement the roles and responsibilities for the Competition Advocate and the Senior Procurement Executive. We identified errors in competition data recorded by GAO in the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) and found instances where contract documentation did not demonstrate the performance of key control activities. Gaps in policy and procedures led to deficiencies in acquisition planning documentation, and in publicizing non-competed contract justifications. Insufficient monitoring resulted in missing documentation to support price reviews of contractors' proposals—including one contract where GAO could not provide evidence to support that it did not overpay $181,500 for equipment, incomplete offering letters to the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the 8(a) program, and missing Recommendations for Awards. These deficiencies increase the risk of GAO not receiving the best value for contracted goods and services.
What OIG Recommends
OIG is making five recommendations related to the award of non-competitive contracts. GAO should (1) document the roles and responsibilities for the Competition Advocate and Senior Procurement Executive to address the required reviews and related annual reports; (2) incorporate GAO's contract competition data into its quality review process to help ensure that data reported into FPDS-NG is accurate; (3) update procurement standard operating procedures to document the requirements for acquisition plans and the publicizing of justifications for non-competition; (4) develop and implement steps to ensure that proposal price reviews are adequately performed and documented, Recommendation for Awards are completed and that GAO offering letters to SBA contain all the required information; and (5) follow-up on one contract we reviewed to confirm that required discounts were applied or that GAO was overcharged and seek reimbursement as appropriate. In its written comments, GAO did not state whether it concurred or did not concur with OIG recommendations. GAO indicated that it had completed corrective action for three recommendations, and considered no action necessary for the remaining two recommendations. When received, the OIG will review documentation supporting the agency's statement of actions taken in response to OIG recommendations, which GAO is required to submit within 60 calendar days of the report's issuance date.
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