Defense struggles to comply with 8(a) contract justification

Tools

The Defense Department failed to properly justify 75 percent of its 8(a) sole-source contracts worth more than $20 million from March 16, 2011 to March 31, 2012, says the Government Accountability Office.

In a Feb. 8 report (.pdf), GAO notes the Federal Acquisition Regulation was changed on March 16, 2011 to require justifications for 8(a) sole-source contracts worth more than $20 million and that Defense applied proper justification to only two of the subsequent eight eligible contracts awarded before March 31, 2012, both of which were awarded by the Air Force.

The report says that six contracts did not meet the new requirement because "contracting officials were not aware of the requirement or because they were confused about the type of justification to complete."

Four of the offending contracts lacked proper 8(a) justification because contracting officials in the Army and Naval Sea Systems Command were unaware of the requirement when the contracts were awarded, says GAO. The report notes that naval contracting officials have begun plans to use 8(a) competition and justification for contract successors.

In the two remaining cases, officials were aware of the requirement but did not properly adhere to it because of confusion with FAR requirements, says the report. It found that justifications were made that met older competition requirements but lacked new justifications such as a determination that the use of sole-source contract was in the best interest of the agency.

The agency recommends that the Office of Federal Procurement Policy issue further guidance to clarify when an 8(a) justification is required, but did not make any specific recommendations to Defense. The department provided no comments on the report.

For more:
- download the report, GAO-13-308R (.pdf)

Related Articles:
FAR update delay lets $2.3B in contracts go unjustified
Government eliminates $47b in bad payments
GAO proposes fee for bid protests