DHS indifferent to special acquisition rules: GAO

Department supports allowing rules to expire

The Homeland Security Department has never used the streamlined acquisition authorities granted by Congress when the department was created 2002, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

"Use of the special authorities has not been needed, because existing authorities have been sufficient to meet DHS requirements," wrote William Woods, director of acquisition and sourcing management for GAO, in a June 20 letter to Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Under the special authorities granted under Section 833 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, DHS officials can:
  • Raise the micro-purchase threshold from $2,500 to $7,500 for certain procurements
  • Use simplified acquisition procedures up to $200,000, rather than $100,000, for contracts within the United States.
  • Increase the ceiling for the use of special simplified procedures to acquire property to $7.5 million from $5 million.

However, DHS said it frequently uses an alternative micro-purchase procedure for purchases up to $15,000 in support of contingency operations if certain conditions are met. In addition, the department officials said raising the $200,000 would only affect 100 procurements annually.

Overall, DHS officials view the additional authorities as "not worth the time and effort required to justify their use," and supports allowing the authorities to expire at the end of September 2007, GAO said.

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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