Lee preaches Get It Right gospel

Deidre Lee, director of the Defense Department's office of procurement and acquisition policy, has been spreading the word about "Get It Right," the General Services Administration's campaign to prevent abuse of contracting vehicles.

As GSA's largest customer, DOD plays a major role in the initiative, Lee said today at a conference hosted by National Business Promotions and Conferences Inc. The initiative, which Lee and GSA Administrator Stephen Perry announced last week, will add additional layers of contract review, post-award analysis and other safeguards to prevent abuses.

The impetus for the program is a sequence of violations of contracting policy that the GSA's inspector general has uncovered in a series of ongoing investigations. In one case, for example, Army officials paid for a new building in Washington state using funds and a contracting vehicle tended for information technology.

"Just place the order on the right [GSA] schedule," Lee said. "It isn't that hard."

The DOD program includes two major components, she said:

Before military officials can use a non-DOD contract, they must conduct an internal review to ensure that the contract is the best option. That applies to both services and supplies, Lee said.

After a contract award is made, DOD officials will hold a post-award review to consider whether the best choice was made, and what they might do differently in the future.

Lee's enthusiasm for the program is fueled in part by her fear of congressional action, she said. The Senate version of the current Defense Authorization bill includes two provisions that would limit DOD officials' ability to use non-DOD contracts.

Congress has already tied the Defense Department's hands in some ways, she said. A defense agency must get three proposals before it can award a contract for services, and "a proposal from the incumbent [contractor] and two no-bids" from competitors no longer count, she said. Department officials also must use a review process for services contracts before they can use a non-DOD vehicle.

"I call those shots across the bow," Lee said. "If we don't get it right, Congress is going to help us."

Regulations are much easier to modify, refine or even revoke than laws are, she added.

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