Senate keeps eye on GSA effort to fix schedule

Sen. Susan Collins has vowed to keep a close eye on the General Services Administration as it works to resolve the long-standing problems in Federal Supply Service contract practices revealed by the Government Accountability Office.

In a letter yesterday to GSA administrator Stephen Perry, the Maine Republican said she was disappointed with "the long history of deficiencies" that GAO turned up in its study.

"GSA clearly lacks adequate controls over this program," the chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said. "This report is merely the latest in a long line of reports issued by the GAO and GSA's inspector general identifying problems with the multiple-award schedules. The fact that the deficiencies such as failing to keep records and utilize existing safeguards continue to be found at this late date is astounding."

GAO has reported that it found FSS conducted on average 21 pre-award audits but no post-award audits between fiscal 1998 and 2004 on schedule contracts. The agency does the audits to ensure the government is getting the best price possible.

Auditors also saw that three of four regional offices did not report the results of their evaluations following price negotiations and the fourth did not conduct any analyses. "As a result of these weaknesses, GSA cannot be assured that fair and reasonable prices have been negotiated for its [schedule] contracts," GAO said.

GSA officials briefed committee staff members on how they will respond to GAO's findings and improve schedule contracting. The agency said it will conduct 70 pre-award audits this year.

"That the GSA Multiple-Awards Schedule has been highly beneficial to the federal acquisition process cannot be denied," Collins said. "In fact, it is that very significant role that makes swift remediation of the deficiencies in the Multiple-Award Schedule's process so vital."

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