DoD slow to codify some interagency contracting standards

Thursday - 1/31/2013, 5:15pm EST

Despite a big policy push from the administration, some agencies have lagged in implementing guidance dealing with interagency contracting, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.

Still, GAO said the creation of a policy framework by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy had gone a long way toward ameliorating some of the issues that landed interagency contracting on the watchdog agency's high-risk list eight years ago, such as duplication and unclear lines of authority between agencies.

OFPP has mandated reforms

Interagency contracting — agencies using another agency's contracting services, including multiple-award contracts and governmentwide-acquisition contracts — has been held out as one way to streamline and save on the $500 billion the federal government spends on acquisition each year.

In September 2011, OFPP further amped up oversight of interagency contracts, directing agencies to provide business cases before launching new multiple-award contracts worth more than $250 million in a bid to slow down the proliferation of MACs.

OFPP and the General Services Administration have also taken steps to fix the problems surrounding a lack of reliable data on interagency contract vehicles, which currently "hampers agencies' ability to do market research as well as efforts to manage and leverage them effectively," GAO reported.

Some agencies lag in implementing key elements

But while most of the 24 CFO Act agencies have made progress on interagency contracting, some have lagged in implementing all the government's new guidance, GAO found.

Some agencies — GAO specifically identified GSA and the Defense Department — are still in the process of updating internal guidance to bring it in line with OFPP mandates.

For example, DoD's best-procurement approach determinations didn't always address all the required elements mandated by OFPP guidance, GAO said.

The department did better at creating clearly defined interagency agreements when it partnered with other agencies on procurements, a "key control for mitigating interagency contracting risks," auditors said.

GAO lauded the overall federal policy framework and the greater availability of data on interagency contracts, which should help agencies "more fully realize" the benefits of interagency contracting, GAO said.

"Now that a new framework for managing the use of interagency contracts is in place, implementation of these requirements is important in order for agencies to demonstrate whether the new policies established to address interagency contracting deficiencies produce the desired results," the report stated.

Specifically, GAO recommended the Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy office update its policies to bring them in line with OFPP guidance. DoD, which has stood up an interagency working group, agreed with the recommendation.

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