GAO pushes long-sought change to FAR

"Contract Management: Not Following Procedures Undermines Best Pricing Under GSA's Schedule"

The General Accounting Office has sent a letter to Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Angela Styles, asking OFPP to implement two recommendations regarding the acquisition of information technology services under the Federal Supply Schedule.

GAO first made the recommendations in November 2000. The letter to Styles, dated Jan. 31, urges OFPP to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to:

* Require contracting officers to solicit competitive quotes for services.

* Clarify the rules pertaining to sole-source orders.

"Although a FAR case has been opened, little progress has been made in implementing the regulations," wrote David Cooper, director of acquisition and sourcing management at GAO. "Moreover, the latest informal estimate indicates that a final rule will not be published until 2004."

Agencies are still not following the rules, Cooper wrote, making the proposed changes urgently needed.

His letter pointed to a March 2002 finding by NASA's inspector general that the agency's contracting officers ignored proper ordering procedures in eight of 20 contracts reviewed. A similar review in November 2002 found that the Defense Department could not show it followed correct procedures in 36 of 44 orders.

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