IG faults DHS for breaking rules on some noncompetitive contracts

Audit examines a total of $3.1 billion in awards in 2007

The Homeland Security Department did not comply with federal regulations in the awarding of 70 noncompetitive contracts in fiscal 2007, according to a new report from DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.

Overall, DHS officials obligated $3.1 billion in procurements without full and open competition that year, and detailed review of 82 of those procurements -- worth a total of $417 million -- showed that DHS skirted the rules in awarding 70 of them, according to Skinner's report.

“Awards were missing or did not have adequate documentation showing compliance with departmental or federal acquisition regulations,” Skinner wrote. “Further, procurement files did not always contain proper written justifications, were not always approved by the appropriate official, did not always contain sufficient evidence of market research or adequate acquisition planning, and did not always reflect the amount of competition that actually took place.”

Skinner also noted that DHS appears to have structured some acquisitions specifically to avoid competition. For example, DHS officials estimated a budget for acquisition support services at $3,498,500, just under a $3.5 million threshold that requires competition under federal rules. “Documentation in the file indicated that efforts were intentionally made to keep the amount just under the competitive threshold. This suggests that there may have been an aversion to competition,” Skinner wrote.

The audit also found that 21 of 38 competitive procurements valued at $348 million did not comply with federal regulations.

Skinner blamed the problems on inadequate policies, procedures, controls and resources and said the result is a department that cannot assure best value in acquisition.

In addition, DHS officials are not effectively using the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation system to consolidate and analyze their procurement data, Skinner found, adding that without effective controls to make sure that employees are entering complete and reliable data, the department is unable to accurately report procurement statistics.

The IG made seven recommendations to DHS that included advice to strengthen policies and procedures and align human capital efforts.

DHS’ Acting Chief Procurement Officer Richard Gunderson agreed with Skinner's seven recommendations and said the department is already in the process of implementing them.

Competition in federal contracting has been a longstanding goal. However, efforts to reduce noncompetitive contracting have been resisted by members of Congress who defend awards made in their states and congressional districts.

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

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 Jaime Gracia Washington, DC

Fiscal year 2007? Either the IG is overwhelmed with the amount of impropriety in DHS contracting or they are way behind the curve. When you have a volatile mix of political pressure and an overwhelmed, undertrained workforce, the IG report and its findings are old news and continue to shed light on a symptom of a larger disease. There are not enough trained acquisition personnel to do the job. What the reports also fail to address is the lack of leadership that would continue to allow these irregularities and inability to follow DHS procurement guidelines by personnel in desperate attempts to complete procurement actions. Instead of focusing on the problems, let’s focus on fixing them and why they happen in the first place.

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.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.