Multiple-award contracts to get closer scrutiny from OFPP

HERSHEY, Pa.?The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is going to take a closer look at whether multiple-award contracts (MACs) are duplicative, and if so, which ones.

Through an interagency working group that will be established this winter, OFPP hopes to follow the work the General Services Administration did in reviewing and consolidating repetitive governmentwide acquisition contracts, said Robert Burton, OFPP deputy administrator.

"For GWACs we have a set of best practices where OFPP reviews them annually, and agencies must come in with a business case to justify their renewal," Burton said earlier this week at the 2005 Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council and the American Council for Technology. "There is some evidence that there is overlap with MACs. Duplication can be a bad thing, depending on the facts and given situation."

The working group will further address the proper and strategic use of MACs, Burton said.

The proper use includes understanding how to issue a task order to ensure competition and make sure the scope of the contract is reasonable.

"The working group will put together guidance on the roles and responsibilities of agencies that own schedules and those that buy off them," Burton said.

Under the strategic use of MACs, the working group will look at whether the contracts are providing best value to the government.

"There is some concern from the Government Accountability Office and agency inspectors general that MACs are being used to generate revenue or for convenience and not for best-value purchases," Burton said. "The working group will include MAC managers and customers."

Burton also said OFPP is preparing the final regulations for share-in-savings even though the provision expired. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who sponsored the original provision, is trying to make it permanent. Burton said he expects share-in-savings will be extended.

The E-Government Act of 2002 allowed for 10 share-in-savings IT projects in 2004 and 2005, and it lets agencies keep the extra savings they realize as long as they spend it on IT. But no agencies ever used the contracting method because OFPP never finalized the regulations.

Burton said GSA received 219 proposals, and only 15 were worthy of further study.

"We will issue the guidance as soon as the authority is extended," Burton said. "Part of the problem has been the accounting aspects, and where would agencies put the savings."

Agencies also shied away from the program because they had trouble figuring out what their baseline costs were, which is important in figuring out the savings, and whether or not agencies should obtain funding in advance for potential cancellation or termination liability, Burton added.

Jason Miller is an assistant managing editor of Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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