DHS officials had improper communications in four procurements

But they didn't break ethics rules, IG finds

Staff members and officials at the Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate engaged in improper actions in four procurements in 2007 but stopped short of violating any ethics rules, according to a new report from DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.

In one case, a senior official there started a procurement based on a concept marketed by one of his business acquaintances interested in bidding on the work — and the official even named the project after the acquaintance, the report states.

In another case, two senior officials met “unwittingly” with a representative of a company that had submitted a proposal to an open Broad Agency Announcement, and during the meeting, the representatives presented information related to their proposal, according to the report released July 28. However, the company received no competitive advantage because it was dropped from the competition for other reasons, Skinner wrote.

The federal executives involved did not violate any ethical rules, the IG said. However, the actions did create an appearance of impropriety, the report concluded.

“Circumstances surrounding four procurements created an appearance that staff members intentionally directed funding to specific acquaintances, though further review indicated that S&T staff did not violate conflict of interest or other ethical rules,” the report states.

In several cases, it appeared that executives were favoring industry executives with whom they were familiar, but when the problems were detected, the federal agency modified procedures to maintain the integrity of the procurements, the IG said.

“These situations indicate the need for better understanding of or regard for procurement standards,” Skinner wrote. “The rules for communicating during the procurement process were established to prevent competitors from gaining an unfair advantage and ensure that the government reaps the benefits of competition. S&T should train its staff in competitive procurement and ethical rules, and S&T management must model and enforce those rules.”

Skinner did not name individuals or companies in the report.

The directorate's top official said he generally agreed with the findings and with the recommendations for improvement. “I believe the draft report fairly describes the facts within the scope of the review. ... I agree with the recommendations,” Bradley Buswell, acting undersecretary for science and technology, wrote in response to the IG.


About the Author

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

Reader Comments

Fri, Jul 31, 2009

DHS is not the only agency that has lost sight of their responsibility to properly manage their funds. Very little of the stimulus package money has made it to the "real world", but it has ignited feeding frenzy in government circles. What you need is an independent professional acquisitions agency for the federal government...oh wait a minute, that is supposed to be GSA!

Thu, Jul 30, 2009

There is still a lot of shady business and actions taking place in the DHS & friends & families of companies are being awarded projects & assignments without full openness or transparency. It is indeed sad & shameful to think that the DHS has indulged in this behavior since their inception and even after wasting millions & millions of tax payers dollars & nothing to show for the department continues to build alliance who are not fully authorized or do not understand a proper logical process. When can the American people expect to see some honesty & integrity in a DHS security??

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Our databases track awards back to 2013. Read More

  • Navigating the trends and issues of 2016 Nick Wakeman

    In our latest WT Insider Report, we pull together our best advice, insights and reporting on the trends and issues that will shape the market in 2016 and beyond. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.