No-compete contracts decline at DHS

Department improves oversight, justification when noncompetitive contracts used

The Homeland Security Department sharply reduced noncompetitive contracting in fiscal 2010 and dramatically improved its oversight of the contracts as well, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General released today.

DHS obligated $1.3 billion in noncompetitive contracts for the fiscal year, the IG's report states. That is 60 percent less than the $3.4 billion in noncompetitive contracting in fiscal 2009 and the $3.5 billion in such contracting in fiscal 2008, according to previous reports for those years.


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At the same time, DHS procurement officials made strides in acquisition oversight by maintaining sufficient documented justifications and market research to support the noncompetitive contracting in comparison to the previous two years.

The IG reviewed documentation for 40 noncompetitive contracts valued at about $100 million combined. Similar reviews were performed in the previous two years.

In fiscal 2008, about 76 percent of the files showed deficiencies; that number rose to 79 percent in fiscal 2009. In fiscal 2010, the rate of deficiencies dropped to 7 percent, the inspector general said.

There also was improvement in documentation for justification and approval to an 11 percent deficiency rate, down from 27 percent deficient in fiscal 2008 and 13 percent deficient in fiscal 2009.

Although the department showed improvement, the IG's office recommended that the DHS chief procurement officer work with component offices to complete a follow-up review and take corrective actions as needed. DHS officials agreed with the recommendation.

Ongoing attention to documentation is needed, the audit states.

“Although the department has made significant improvement in providing oversight and direction on adequate justification and approval documentation, it needs to continue performing its management oversight and implement corrective actions where reviews and audits continue to identify deficiencies,“ Anne Richards, assistant IG for audits, wrote in the report.





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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