Holes found in DHS acquisition data

Audit finds 5.5 percent of data is inaccurate or incomplete

Five of every 100 pieces of acquisition data at the Homeland Security Department show mistakes and discrepancies, according to a new internal audit. The department also is unable to locate 12 files on contracts valued at $31 million total.

“The Department of Homeland Security did not always report complete and accurate acquisition data in the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation,” concludes the Feb. 16 report by DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner. "Some of DHS' acquisition data was unreliable and questionable."

The next-generation system feeds procurement data from all federal agencies to the White House and Congress and to transparency Web sites such as USAspending.gov.

The DHS audit reviewed 180 contract files with 8,460 pieces of data. Overall, 464 of the data fields, or 5.5 percent, did not match information reported in the next-generation federal procurement system, Skinner wrote.

The problems included incorrect ZIP codes, erroneous information about contractors, incorrect dollar amounts, inconsistent or incomplete information on competitive practices, and inaccuracies in small-business data.

Skinner blamed the unreliable data on human errors, gaps in management controls and user limitations with the federal procurement data system’s auto-populated field elements.

“As a result, the department may be reporting inaccurate acquisitions data and not providing the public with full transparency and accountability on some government activities,” Skinner wrote.

The IG recommended three improvements, and DHS officials agreed with the recommendations.

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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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