About 40 percent of all contracts awarded by the Defense Department in fiscal 2013 were through noncompetitive contracts, says an April 16 Government Accountability Office report. With those contracts, the DoD tends to bundle them under a class justifcation rather than justifying why there was no competition for each contract, the report says.
Acquisition experts see a March 13 Defense Department memo directing its contracting officers to seek prices lower than the general schedule as redundant and as a sign that contracting officers aren't getting the training they need. The Federal Acquisition Regulation already says that contracting officers shall seek a price reduction when the order exceeds the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000.
The General Services Administration will create an online repository containing data on much agencies have paid for particular goods and services, an April 9 GSA blog post says. The GSA will develop the Common Acquisition Platform – an online platform to guide agencies through the total acquisition process, GSA's Federal Acquisition Service head Tom Sharpe said in the blog post.
Six years of audits and investigations by the State Department office of inspector general turned up $6 billion worth of contracts with missing or incomplete files. In a March 31 report (pdf), the OIG says contract management is a major challenge for the department and "creates conditions conducive to fraud."
The General Services Administration failed to assess the negative impact that the Office Supplies 3 strategic sourcing contract would have on small businesses, an April 3 Small Business Administration analysis says.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has not gone far enough in cutting the costs of goods and services obtained through vendor contracts nor has it established a formal strategic sourcing program to help find potential savings, according to Justice Department auditors.
Agencies are letting noncompetitive contracts awarded on the basis of "unusual and compelling urgency" run past the one year limit they're not meant to exceed.
Total governmentwide transparency on pricing for information technology products could have unintended consequences, said a senior acquisition official.
The federal government says it's time to cancel the Y2K compliance requirement it has obliged technology vendors to meet since before the turn of the century. "All of the issues addressing the transition to year 2000 compliance language have been resolved," acknowledges a proposed rule. Federal agencies have been enjoined by the FAR since 1997 from buying technology incapable of correctly rolling the date from Dec. 31, 1999 to Jan. 1, 2000.
Lowest price, technically acceptable contracts work when used correctly, but they shouldn't be used when the Defense Department is seeking innovation – a lesson the Pentagon's junior acquisition workforce is learning, said Assistant Defense Secretary for Acquisition Katrina McFarland.