DOD IG criticizes GSA buys

IG Report: DOD Purchases Made Through the General Services Administration

Contracting officials have wasted money and violated acquisition regulations when making Defense Department technology purchases through the General Services Administration, according to a new DOD inspector general's report.

In the past five years, $1 billion to $2 billion in military funds expired or became unavailable to support military operations because GSA contracting officers and DOD managers mismanaged money or did not adequately plan their acquisitions, according to the report released July 29.

DOD IG officials reviewed 75 purchases funded by 144 military interdepartmental requests worth about $406 million that occurred primarily in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004. They found that 74 lacked the necessary interagency agreements, 68 did not have proper acquisition planning, 44 were not supported by adequate auditing and 38 were funded improperly.

In July 2004, DOD and GSA officials launched Get It Right, a campaign to improve the training and awareness of GSA employees at regional offices on the importance of following procurement rules. The campaign followed a series of internal investigations that uncovered contract misuse in some of GSA's regional offices.

Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, said the latest IG report is not as telling as results from a round of new audits might be. Those reviews, mandated by the Defense Authorization legislation that passed last year, will begin in the fall, he said.

Allen added that the IG report might not reflect the effects of Get It Right, a recent effort by DOD and GSA officials to educate contracting officers. "We've been talking about Get It Right for a long time, but we've had Get It Right in place for only about 10 months," he said.

DOD's IG recommended that the department fix the purchasing problems by requiring DOD's top acquisition official to establish a policy stating that qualified department contracting officers must review all purchase orders on non-DOD contracts before the orders leave the department, among other things.

The IG also recommended that DOD's comptroller publish guidance to all department agencies on funding and auditing of non-DOD contracts.

The department sent about 24,000 purchase requests to GSA last year. They represented more than 85 percent of the business GSA's client-support centers handle.

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