DHS needs to tighten up interagency contracting: GAO

The Homeland Security Department is falling short in its management of interagency contracts and failing to monitor its total spending on such contracts, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

DHS spent about $6.5 billion on interagency contracts in fiscal 2005, which is about 37 percent of the $17.5 billion in total purchases, the GAO said. The Office of Procurement Operations used the greatest amount of interagency contracting, totaling $3.7 billion.

However, the department has not developed effective guidance on how to ensure good value in such contracts, the report said. Oversight is lagging, especially with regard to General Services Administration schedules and governmentwide acquisition contracts, the report said.

Not all interagency contracts offer good value when considering timeliness and cost. For that reason, as of July 2005, the department has required planning and analysis of alternatives for all acquisitions. Yet in four cases when such planning was required, it was not performed, the GAO said.

"DHS officials said benefits of speed and convenience?not total value including cost?have driven decisions to choose these types of contracts," the GAO reported. "DHS does not systematically monitor its total spending on interagency contracts and does not assess the outcomes of its use of this contracting method."

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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