GSA Needs To Strengthen Its Inspection and Testing To Make Sure the Government Gets the Quality It Pays For

PSAD-79-102: Published: Sep 21, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 1979.

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The General Services Administration (GSA) acquires common use items for federal agencies. The GSA quality control program provides little assurance that goods purchased for use by government agencies meet contract specifications or user needs. During fiscal year 1978, GSA inspected and accepted $1.3 billion of common use items. Historically, the quality of items provided by GSA has been subjected to much debate. Many agencies complain that defective or low quality merchandise is often provided.

GSA has delegated much of the inspection program to contractors through its Quality Approved Manufacturers Program which permits suppliers to ship goods without GSA inspection. In fiscal year 1978, over $900 million of supplies were shipped under this program. GSA quality inspectors do not usually have any formal training and only receive infrequent supervision when conducting quality inspections at contractors' plants. Origin inspections conducted by GSA quality assurance inspectors are not properly conducted and provide little assurance that the government gets the quality it pays for. Items that are subject to origin inspection or provided under the Quality Approved Manufacturers Program are not inspected for quality when they are received by a GSA depot or user agency. The GSA Quality Assurance System lacks controls to prevent or detect collusion between quality control personnel and contractors. In addition, the customer complaint system which GSA relies on to detect defective products does not effectively identify product defects or satisfy user agencies.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA should: (1) provide better supervision and a formal training program for quality assurance inspectors; (2) provide for systematic inspection and testing of items received, on a sampling basis, even when the supplier is certified under the Quality Approved Manufacturers Program; (3) require quality assurance inspectors to submit conflict of interest statements and consider periodic rotation of field inspectors to reduce the possibility of collusion between GSA inspectors and contractors; (4) establish a compliant system that promptly resolves legitimate complaints and provide the results of customer complaints to contracting officers for consideration when making future procurements; and (5) emphasize testing quality of goods at destination until inspections conducted in contractors' plants are improved and the complaint system is effectively identifying poor quality products.

    Agency Affected:


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