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Highlights

In 1996, Congress authorized a test program that permits government buyers to use procedural discretion and flexibility, so that commercial items may be obtained in a simplified manner. This report discusses how federal agencies demonstrated whether the test program produced the desired results and (2) assesses how the authority provided under the test program was being used on selected contracts. GAO found that (1) the Office of Federal Procurement Policy did not collect data to provide a basis for measuring whether the test program produced the desired results and (2) government buyers did not always demonstrate that prices were fair and reasonable for the contracts included in GAO's review. However, OFPP's 1999 survey of procurement executives showed that these executives believed that the program has had a positive impact on the federal procurement process. These executives believed that the authority provided under the test program should be made permanent. However, OFPP's survey did not collect empirical data that would have supported these views.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Before providing permanent authority for using simplified procedures to acquire commercial items costing up to $5 million, Congress should consider extending the authority until 2005 and requiring the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to develop a method for demonstrating that the use of the simplified test program procedures is producing the desired results. This demonstration project should be done in a fashion that would not deter government buyers from using the simplified procedures.
Closed - Implemented
Congress implemented GAO's recommendation.

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