Overview of HUD's Contracting Activities

RCED-97-132R: Published: May 9, 1997. Publicly Released: May 9, 1997.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) contracting activities, focusing on: (1) the source of HUD's procurement authority and how it is delegated; (2) the offices responsible for contracting and their roles; (3) the data HUD maintains on its contracting activities, and what these data show regarding the extent of the agency's contracting activities since fiscal year (FY) 1990; (4) contracting activities for task-order contracts; (5) how HUD obtains the services of experts and consultants; and (6) the contracting activities performed by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO).

GAO noted that: (1) HUD's procurement authority is contained in the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act; (2) procurement authority is delegated from the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development through the Assistant Secretary for Administration to the Office of Procurement and Contracts (OPC), contracting divisions in three field administrative service centers (ASC), and to the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA); (3) HUD's procurement offices award and administer contracts on behalf of program offices; (4) OPC performs these functions for headquarters offices, and the three ASCs perform them for HUD's field offices; (5) also, OPC is responsible for formulating contracting policy, providing technical assistance, and evaluating contracting activities agencywide; (6) GNMA has its own procurement office that awards and administers contracts in support of its programs; (7) contracting data for the period that GAO reviewed were maintained at each location that performed contracting; (8) the data varied considerably in terms of its completeness and reliability; (9) the headquarters procurement office has maintained its data in the same automated database since 1977, and procurement officials believe that, at least from 1991 to the present, the data are generally reliable; (10) in contrast, HUD field offices only began using a common automated database to track contracting activities in 1995, and agency officials consider information from this system incomplete and unreliable; (11) GNMA does not have an automated system for maintaining its contracting data, although it is developing a system expected to be operational by July 1997; (12) recognizing the need to improve the completeness and accuracy of information on its contracting activities, HUD is implementing a new system that will integrate and centralize headquarters and field procurement data; (13) data from the headquarters database indicate that annual contract obligations grew from $213 million in FY 1991 to $376 million in FY 1996; (14) in addition to the services obtained through contracts, HUD makes a limited number of temporary or intermittent appointments of experts and consultants; (15) OFHEO is an independent office within HUD; and (16) OFHEO follows the Federal Acquisition Regulation but does not follow HUD's acquisition regulation; and (16) OFHEO formulates its own contracting policy and processes and manages its seven open contracts without an automated data system.

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