Department of Energy:

Opportunity for Enhanced Oversight of Major System Acquisitions

RCED-97-146R: Published: Apr 30, 1997. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994, the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-11 can help address the Department of Energy's (DOE) problems in completing its largest and most significant systems projects.

GAO noted that: (1) Title V of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act is designed to foster the development of: (a) measurable cost, schedule, and performance goals; and (b) incentives for acquisition personnel to reach these goals; (2) subtitle B, which applies to civilian agencies, provides that agency heads are to establish cost, schedule, and performance goals for acquisition programs and annually report on the progress in meeting these goals; (3) these goals are to include achieving, on average, 90 percent of the established cost and schedule goals without reducing the performance or capabilities of the items being acquired; (4) subtitle B also requires that agency heads manage employees in acquisition positions, including their education, training, and career development, by relating their evaluations, pay, and promotions to their performance in helping achieve cost, schedule, and performance goals; (5) furthermore, the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 provides for the establishment of policies and procedures for the management, education, and training of the civilian acquisition workforce; (6) the career development of this workforce is to include the identification of appropriate career paths, mandatory education and training in the critical duties and tasks of these career paths, and an enhanced system of performance incentives to encourage agencies to specify in their budget justification documents the funding levels requested for educating and training the acquisition workforce; (7) under the act, the funds appropriated for this purpose may not be used for any other purpose; (8) OMB issued Circular A-11, which included new guidance for agencies to use in the planning, budgeting, and acquisition of fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment; (9) one purpose of this guidance is to ensure that agencies acquisition plans support the agencies mission statements, long-term goals and objectives, and annual performance plans developed under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993; (10) GAO believes that these changes in procurement law could help DOE recruit additional contracting staff and improve the technical capabilities of its existing staff; and (11) hence, these changes could help to address a long-standing departmental problem.

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