NIMA not FAR compliant

National Imagery and Mapping Agency procurement officials did not comply with appropriate contracting policies and procedures in recently awarded professional and technical service contracts, such as omitting documents required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), according to a new report from the Defense Department's inspector general.

From fiscal 2000 through fiscal 2002, NIMA awarded more than 1,900 service contract actions totaling more than $1.3 billion in support of agency operations. In awarding those contracts, NIMA staff neglected to follow service contracting policies and procedures provided in FAR and NIMA's own Acquisition Regulation Implementation, according to the June 6 DOD IG report.

It is unclear what action, if any, may result from the report.

Service contracts hire vendors to perform a specific service rather than to produce a solution.

"Contracting officials did not adequately support decisions or include all relevant documentation in contract files," according to the IG report. "Further, the acquisition and procurement community needed to implement effective management controls."

Between May 2002 and March 2003, the DOD IG "judgmentally selected and reviewed" 86 contract actions, valued at $247.3 million, to determine the adequacy of technical evaluations, price negotiation memorandums, independent government cost estimates, and sole source justification and approvals. Of the 86 contracts reviewed, 85 had one or more of the following problems:

* 85 independent government cost estimates were missing or inadequate.

* 77 technical evaluations were missing or inadequate.

* 55 price negotiation memorandums were missing or inadequate.

* 50 of 54 justifications and approvals were missing or inadequate.

The report also found that task orders were awarded without considering competition and historical data. "As a result, service contracts were not awarded in the most efficient and effective manner, and may have cost the department more money."

DOD IG investigators also questioned the accuracy of NIMA's procurement information reporting systems, because 156 contract actions in the Procurement Request Information System were not in the Defense Contract Action Data System and 410 actions in the Defense Contract Action Data System were not in the Procurement Request Information System.

"As a result, internal and external reports generated by both procurement information reporting systems were not reliable," according to the report.

The report also blasted NIMA for a "lack of management oversight for contract actions under $30 million...[and] the lack of continuity of contracting personnel because of promotions, rotation and retirement of senior management contributed to poor contract administration."

The DOD IG report makes four recommendations to NIMA's director:

* Develop criteria and training on how to maintain adequate and complete contract files in coordination with the National Reconnaissance Office Center of Excellence and periodically review a sample of contracts as part of the internal control process.

* Develop mandatory comprehensive acquisition training for all contract personnel specific to the preparation and maintenance of detailed technical evaluations, price negotiation memorandums, independent government cost estimates, and justifications and approvals as required by federal acquisition requirements.

* Implement management oversight strategies for service contracts under $30 million to ensure that contracts are awarded and administered to enhance warfighters capabilities and achieve intended results.

* Review the assignment of contract surveillance and adjust workload and staffing to resolve any imbalance.

The DOD IG provided a draft of the report to NIMA April 4, but no written response was received so the inspector's office has requested that NIMA's director comment by July 7.


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