Davis reviews immigration contracting

"GAO report: Contract Management: INS Contracting Weaknesses Need Attention from the Department of Homeland Security"

The House Government Reform Committee will begin a review of legacy contracting functions of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, sparked by continued concerns about management deficiencies.

Committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis sent a letter this week to Tom Ridge, Homeland Security Department secretary, expressing concerns of INS' contracting practices. Davis requested Ridge present the committee an overview of plans to improve procurement functions by Nov. 12.

"I continue to have concerns about procurement management deficiencies that existed prior to the creation of DHS, and I would like you to shed some light on the press and future plans DHS has to improve those deficiencies," Davis wrote.

The letter referred to a General Accounting Office report, which was carried out at Davis' request and released in August, that identified weaknesses in procurement oversight and procedures. The report said the agency's information systems don't provide agencywide information needed for procurement decisions. The report also said the agency did not make good use of crossfunctional teams, resulting in poor coordination, and that managers lacked the leverage to hold employees accountable for compliance.

"Contracting officer recruiting, retention and training were also major concerns of the GAO," Davis wrote. "GAO noted the lack of advanced planning in the procurement process, limited opportunities for full and open competition and noted that contractor performance monitoring was poor in some cases."

Davis asked Ridge to provide the committee with written overviews of:

* DHS' actions to improve legacy INS' procurement functions, including plans for enhanced information sharing and implementing the GAO's recommendations.

* Improvements to contracting workforce issues, including recruitment and retention plans and a description of the director of the acquisition workforce.

* Planned improvements to contract management in ensuring that legacy INS program offices adequately monitor contractor performance.

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