DOD struggles to justify sole source awards

pen and check

DOD officials are not following all the steps they're supposed to before signing the check for a sole-source contract, GAO finds. (Stock image)

The Government Accountability Office found that defense acquisition officials often fail to justify sole-source awards to small, disadvantaged companies even though a new law requires written justification when the contracts are worth more than $20 million.

The Defense Department made eight such awards between March 2011, when the new rule took effect, and March 2012. DOD officials did not meet the new justification requirement on six of those contracts. The Air Force awarded the two contracts that complied with the requirement.

GAO said the other contracting officials were unaware of the requirement or were confused about the type of justification needed. On two Army contracts, for example, officials prepared justifications but based them on the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984.

Under the new rule, officials must address five specific elements, including showing why the sole-source contract is in the agency's best interest and ensuring that it is paying a fair price.

The law does not specify at which stage an agency needs to justify its decision, but it should happen before contract negotiations begin.

In December 2012, GAO recommended that the Office of Federal Procurement Policy issue guidance clarifying the justification rule.

DOD officials had no comments to add to GAO’s report.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group