DHS is missing documents on noncompetitive contracts, IG says

Majority of noncompetitive contracts reviewed lacked proper documentation

For the second time in two months, Homeland Security Department Inspector General Richard Skinner has identified a pattern of missing or inadequate documentation for noncompetitive contracting at the department.

The new report, issued today, reviewed 39 DHS noncompetitive contracts valued at $72 million in fiscal 2008. Of the 39 files, 33 had missing or inadequate written justifications, market studies or other documents, the report stated.

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“The procurement files reviewed did not always have sufficient evidence of market research or acquisition planning. Acquisition personnel did not always follow regulations, policies, or procedures to support awarding the contracts through other than full and open competition. As a result, the department cannot ensure that it received the best possible value on the goods and services it acquired from these contracts,” Skinner wrote in the report.

The IG’s previous report, issued March 4, found a similar pattern in noncompetitive contracts for fiscal 2009.

DHS officials agreed with some of the findings and recommendations.

Although the Federal Acquisition Regulation said agencies should strive for competitive contracting, it permits a number of exceptions. In certain cases, written justifications or market research, or both, must be included in the file.

The IG’s audit said that three of the 11 contracts requiring written justifications did not include those justifications in the files. However, DHS officials disagreed with that assessment, and said no justifications were needed for those three contracts.

Of the 39 noncompetitive contracts reviewed, 23 were small business contracts that required market research. Based on the review, the IG said 16 of those contracts did not provide evidence of the research.

The inspector general recommended that the chief procurement officer institute a strengthened oversight process and issue guidance to ensure that documentation is adequate and is added to the files.

DHS officials said they agreed with the recommendations but also said their oversight process was sufficient. “The Chief Procurement Officer agrees that lack of sufficient documentation is an issue for FY 2008 contract files, but believes it has a viable oversight program in place,” the report stated.

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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