GAO: Contractor performance reviews fall short

DHS conducted only a fraction of required contract assessments

The Homeland Security Department conducted only 13 percent of the required performance assessments on thousands of federal contracts in fiscal 2007, the worst record of federal agencies reviewed, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

DHS performed 535 assessments on 4,131 federal contracts requiring such assessments, which is a rate of 13 percent, the GAO said.

Other defense and civilian federal agencies did better, with the Navy assessing 42 percent of those required, and the Air Force, 47 percent. Overall, the federal agencies reviewed performed the required assessments 31 percent of the time.

“We estimated that the number of contracts that required a performance assessment in fiscal year 2007 for agencies we reviewed would have totaled about 23,000. For the same period, we found about 7,000 assessments in the Past Performance Information Retrieval System — about 31 percent of those contracts requiring an assessment,” states the GAO report, which was posted on the Web on May 22.

Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation, most federal agencies are required to prepare an evaluation of contractor performance for each contract that exceeds a specific threshold, which is $100,000 in most cases.

One reason for the shortcomings is that many agencies are not including contract actions involving task or delivery orders placed against the General Service Administration’s Multiple Award Schedule, the GAO said. There were about 18,000 such contracts in fiscal 2008, but only a small percentage was assessed for performance.

Some confusion exists about who is supposed to be doing the assessments for MAS task orders, the GAO added.

“Contracting officials we spoke with confirmed that these assessments were generally not being done; some told us that they believed GSA was collecting this information. However, GSA officials said agencies are responsible for documenting and reporting MAS contractor performance, and GSA does not generally request feedback on performance for MAS contractors,” the report states.

In addition, contracting officials are not systematically documenting information on contractor terminations for default and contractor management of subcontractors.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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