HUD's procurement process improving; more steps suggested

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has made many improvements to its procurement process over the past year, but the agency still needs to take additional steps to improve management, according to an independent report released yesterday.

The report by the National Academy of Public Administration, "HUD Procurement Reform: Substantial Progress Underway," highlighted five key improvements:

Hiring a chief procurement officer in March 1998 to take charge of procurement reform efforts.

Establishing a Contract Management Review Board in September 1998 to provide guidelines, review plans, set standards and facilitate procurements.

Using integrated project teams of program and contracting experts to conduct faster procurements.

Creating and training full-time government technical representatives to ensure that contractors are providing the desired results.

Focusing on performance-based contracting.

The improvements were part of HUD's 2020 Management Reform Plan and were based on suggestions in a NAPA review in 1997 after HUD's Office of Inspector General found that the agency's procurement processes were vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse. The review focused on HUD's procurement policy, its compliance with the Government Performance and Review Act and its need to allocate resources and employees to its core mission.

But new systems and organizational changes alone will not solve all problems, according to the report. "The sustained commitment of the department's top management is essential to ensure that the promising actions taken to date are sustained and that HUD reaps the long-term benefits from the actions proposed in this report," the report states.

The report made several suggestions of other actions that HUD should take to solve its procurement and management problems, including establishing performance standards for the model procurement system, developing annual three-year advanced procurement plans and continuing to review its internal acquisition processes to identify further streamlining opportunities.

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