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Highlights

The Metropolitan Area Acquisition (MAA) program, managed by the General Services Administration (GSA), provides local telecommunications services to government agencies in selected metropolitan areas. Of the 25 cities in which MAA contracts were awarded as of January 2003, 15 were awarded to two or more providers. Such multiple-award contracts are a means of promoting competition. To ensure equity in the award of task orders under these contracts, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires that the government provide contractors a fair opportunity to be considered. GAO was asked to review, among other things, whether GSA's implementation of the fair consideration process is consistent and the effect of any inconsistency, as well as the adequacy of GSA's documentation to support the decisions reached.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
General Services Administration 1. The Administrator of General Services should establish a common process for GSA to consistently follow in reaching its fair consideration decisions under the MAA contracts, and that he direct the Federal Technology Service (FTS) Commissioner to oversee the proper application of this process. This common process should include a uniform time frame for comparing MAA contractor prices, and it should specify the cost elements (such as reconfiguration costs) to be considered in those comparisons. Should local conditions warrant deviation from this common process, GSA should document these deviations and communicate them to GSA's MAA contractors, so that all MAA stakeholders have a clear and consistent understanding of the process being followed. This process should include the management oversight necessary to ensure adherence to the FAR prohibition against the use of agency preference in decisions on task orders valued at more than $2,500.
Closed - Implemented
In response to GAO's recommendation, GSA developed guidance for its task order award process under the MAA contracts and disseminated it to its FTS regional offices in March 2003. Based on this action, GSA's fair consideration decision process will be consistent and transparent, and will improve the quality and the fairness of its task order award decisions.
General Services Administration 2. The Administrator of General Services should direct the FTS Commissioner to establish and apply uniform guidelines for documenting fair consideration decisions that are sufficient to ensure that GSA appropriately reaches its decisions to award task orders. For each fair consideration decision, this documentation should include the rationale for the decision; (2) the supporting contractor price comparison; and (3) support for other factors considered in reaching the decision, such as technical and past performance considerations, as appropriate.
Closed - Implemented
In response to GAO's recommendation, GSA developed guidance for maintenance of decision documentation and disseminated it to its FTS regional offices in March 2003. Based on this action, GSA's customer agencies, MAA contractors, and Congress can be assured that GSA's task order award decisions will be appropriately reached and properly documented.
General Services Administration 3. The Administrator of General Services should direct the FTS Commissioner to develop performance measures to determine when the request for quotations (RFQ) process best achieves program goals.
Closed - Implemented
In response to GAO's recommendation, GSA issued guidance to its FTS regional offices in May 2003, that identifies those acquisition conditions where use of the RFQ process is most suitable to achieving its program goals. Based on this action, GSA has established the measures it needs to determine whether and when to use the RFQ process, thereby maximizing the value of its RFQ process for its customer agencies.
General Services Administration 4. Once GSA has outcomes for these measures, it should evaluate the results of its RFQ process to identify potential improvements and to determine its most suitable and cost-effective use.
Closed - Implemented
In response to GAO's recommendation, GSA issued guidance to its FTS regional offices in May 2003, that identifies those acquisition conditions where use of the RFQ process is most suitable to achieving its program goals. Based on this action, GSA has established the measures it needs to determine whether and when to use the RFQ process, thereby maximizing the value of its RFQ process for its customer agencies.

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