Report: VA lax in maintaining contract-management system

Lack of compliance negates benefits of Electronic Contract Management System

The Veterans Affairs Department is not using its computerized contract-management system effectively and the information in the system is incomplete, according to an audit from VA's Office of the Inspector General.

“VA cannot achieve the expected benefits of the Electronic Contract Management System, including the ability to integrate and standardize procurement processes, reduce workload, and improve communications without complete information,” stated the report released July 30.

For example, VA currently cannot rely on the electronic system to determine the total number of procurements accurately or the total estimated value of the procurements. Because the procurement information is incomplete, reports generated by the system cannot be relied on, the audit said.

The department has not yet integrated the system with other systems for integrated funds distribution, control point activity, accounting and procurement, or financial management, the eport said.

The VA began implementing and mandating the use of the electronic system in 2007. However, supervisors and managers did not ensure the required use and there is no oversight program to monitor compliance. the IG said.

In one test, auditors looked at 6,755 procurement actions valued at about $1.7 billion and determined that only 17 percent of the actions were filed in the electronic system.

Also, staff members needed additional training to better use the system, and did not always enter the minimum amount of information needed as required, the report added.

The IG  made eight recommendations for improvements, and VA officials agreed with the findings and recommendations.

In June, the IG reported that an agreement between the VA and the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center to provide information technology support was poorly administered.


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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