GAO to TSA: Elevate acquisition

The Transportation Security Administration's Office of Acquisitions is too low on the organizational ladder to oversee the agency's acquisition process effectively, General Accounting Office said in a report.

According to the report from Congress' investigation and auditing arm, TSA should improve its acquisition function by developing internal controls and performance measures.

GAO also warned that an imbalance in the size and capabilities of TSA's acquisition workforce could undermine the efficiency of the agency's acquisition function. TSA has a hard time attracting and retaining qualified acquisitions personnel, auditors found.

Since its inception in November 2001, TSA has awarded about $8.5 billion in contracts. Almost half of the agency's fiscal year 2003 budget was consumed by contracts.

The acquisition process consists of planning and presolicitation, solicitation and award, post-award and administration, and contract modification.

GAO officials reviewed 21 contracts, divided into four types: new contracts, task and delivery orders, blanket purchase agreements, and purchase orders. Among those contracts were a $71 million contract with Covenant Aviation Security LLC, a $554 million contract to CPS Human Resource Services and a $23 million contract to Unisys Corp.

Homeland Security Department officials generally agreed with the recommendations.

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