Audit puts GSA on the spot again

The General Services Administration has spent the past year making sure it got contracting right, but a draft audit by the Defense Department’s inspector general pinpoints areas where DOD and GSA failed to comply with procurement rules.

Despite the IG’s critiques, the report recommends that DOD be allowed to conduct business with GSA’s Client Support Centers (CSCs).

Nevertheless, GSA officials expressed frustration that the draft report failed to adequately acknowledge the steps the agency has taken to ensure it complies with procurement rules and regulations. In fact, several GSA officials said they have been pleased with the agency’s progress in improving its procurement processes and are concerned that the audit could hurt its credibility with customers.

They are concerned enough that both GSA Administrator Lurita Doan and Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Jim Williams wrote responses to the draft report expressing their frustration with what they consider to be errors. The draft has not been released publicly, but it was leaked.

GSA has been struggling to regain its status as the government’s premier procurement agency since a series of problems came to light several years ago involving violations of procurement rules at several centers. GSA officials and industry experts say they fear the IG report could cause a setback in those efforts.

The audit shows a lot of room for improvement, said Hope Lane, director of GSA schedule consulting services at Aronson and Co. DOD and GSA have to iron out the differences in their interpretations of technical procurement regulations, she added.

The draft report notes that DOD and GSA are meeting to resolve the problems that the IG found with four CSCs and that DOD will continue to do business with all of GSA’s centers. That’s one of the most important points in the report, Lane said.

“Not to use GSA could be even more detrimental” because DOD does not have the staff it needs to do all of its acquisitions in-house, she said.

Without GSA’s assistance or enough DOD staff to handle $3 billion in orders, Lane said, the result would be many more hastily prepared acquisitions. “The bottom line is it needs to work,” she said.

What the IG found
The IG found that 55 of the 56 purchases it audited, all from fiscal 2005, were either hastily planned or improperly executed or funded. Both agencies violated the Anti-Deficiency Act by spending more money than Congress appropriated for 12 of 54 reviewed purchases.

The auditors found that GSA’s centers did not give enough justification for sole-source procurements for six of 14 purchases. In addition, interagency agreements between various DOD agencies and GSA were inadequate for 54 of the 56 purchases. Finally, DOD did not keep an audit trail of funds and lacked sufficient planning for purchases, according to the draft report.

GSA officials respond
In an Aug. 17 letter responding to the draft report, Williams recommended that the IG delete the comments about the six sole-source procurements and the four CSCs. He wrote that the IG failed to include evidence for focusing on the centers, and he wants the dozen Anti-Deficiency Act infringements reduced to a single infraction.

Williams suggested adding a more positive paragraph about GSA’s procurement improvements. According to Williams’ letter, the report should say the IG “found significant improvements by both GSA and DOD contracting and program management officials in the use of GSA’s assisted acquisition process.”

Lane said the IG’s language, while not as positive as Williams would like, is typical of audit reports.

An IG spokesman said the office stands by the audit. “To date, nothing has been provided to us to change our position,” he said.

What the report means
GSA has worked hard to correct problems and ensure that it meets contracting rules and regulations, said David Bibb, GSA’s deputy administrator. The agency is mostly concerned about its credibility with customers, which it has been trying to rebuild, Bibb said. The report leaves an incorrect impression about how GSA handles procurements, he added.

Frank Pugliese, a former Federal Supply Service commissioner who is now managing director of government business development at DuPont, said GSA needs to make drastic changes. Recently, it’s been nibbling around the edges of transformation, he said.

If officials find a wrongheaded business model, they should scrap it, said Pugliese, who worked at GSA for 32 years.

Carl DeMaio, president of the Performance Institute, said GSA officials are taking a transactional view of their situation. Because of dropping revenue numbers, GSA is trying to reduce its workforce. But unless GSA examines its offerings and carves out a unique niche in the acquisition system, agencies will continue to look elsewhere, he said. That will not ease the agency’s financial difficulties.

DeMaio has said Doan could be “the splash of cold water in the face of the GSA’s culture.” Last week, he reiterated that point and said he hopes she does not get lost in the bureaucracy.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.