Interagency contracting--using another agency's contracts or contracting services--can provide agencies with opportunities to streamline the procurement process and achieve savings. However, GAO designated the management of interagency contracting a high-risk area in 2005 due, in part, to a lack of reliable data on its use and of clarity regarding contract management responsibilities. In 2002, the Department of State (State) issued the State First policy, requiring domestic bureaus to obtain approval from State acquisition officials before paying other agencies for contract support services. Under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative, GAO evaluated State's 1) insight into its use of interagency contracts, 2) policies on deciding when to use assisted interagency contracts, and 3) ability to ensure oversight. GAO's work included reviewing regulations, analyzing interagency contracting data, and conducting 10 case studies of direct and assisted interagency contracts that represented a range of State bureaus and servicing agencies.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of State||1. To enable State to improve its management of interagency contracting, the Secretary of State should direct the Office of the Procurement Executive to develop, in consultation with the bureaus, a reliable means for tracking the use of interagency contracts so that the bureaus and acquisition officials can readily and reliably access data, such as the costs and associated fees. Analysis of such data could also be used to assess whether the State First process provides an accurate reflection of bureaus' use of assisted interagency contracting.|
|Department of State||2. To enable State to improve its management of interagency contracting, the Secretary of State should direct the Office of the Procurement Executive to work with the Office of Acquisitions Management, in coordination with the bureaus that make the most use of assisted interagency contracts, to clarify and refine the State First policy, including existing exemptions, and provide additional guidance as needed regarding which actions need review under the policy.|
|Department of State||3. To enable State to improve its management of interagency contracting, the Secretary of State should direct the Office of the Procurement Executive to require bureaus seeking a State First waiver to identify in their request individual(s) who will be responsible for contract oversight and ensure they are trained to perform this key role.|