Commerce’s main 2013 goal should be oversight, says OIG

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The Commerce Department faces management and performance uncertainties it must address to be successful in fiscal 2013, says the department's office of inspector general.

In a Nov. 9 report (.pdf) Commerce's OIG says the agency needs to focus hardest on issues of promoting domestic growth, increasing exports, extending oversight and developing internal accountability.

OIG says the key areas for economic growth stateside are the electronics and manufacturing, intellectual property and wireless industries, but it must also protect related exports.

Auditors also say the agency needs better control over contract awards and a stricter governance structure. OIG notes Commerce spent $2.4 billion in fiscal 2011 on contracts for goods and services, and identifies a series of gaps in its procurement process that have led to waste. The most immediate need, says OIG, is to develop a system that holds bureau officials accountable for the misuse of credit cards, undisclosed conflicts of interests, misuse of public positions and of goods purchased with Commerce funds.

OIG also says the department needs to closely monitor the roughly $2 billion in grants it has not dispersed under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program because any programs funded by the grants must complete between Nov. 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013, and "the potential for fraud, waste, and abuse associated with such large-dollar-amount awards will increase as recipient spending increases."

Roughly 12 percent of Commerce's proposed fiscal 2013 budget is dedicated to programs that protect U.S. exports and combat unfair trade practices. OIG says Commerce should further the development of export assistance centers and use its International Trade Administration to pursue goods being sold at less than a fair value.

For more:
- download the report (.pdf)

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