GAO: Use DHS acquisition pilot

GAO Report: "Further Action Needed to Promote Successful Use of Special DHS Acquisition Authority"

The Homeland Security Department (DHS) has a pilot program that promotes acquisition of cutting-edge products, technologies and services while being exempt from federal statutes, but the initiative hasn't been used effectively and needs more development, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, DHS created a five-year pilot program to use special acquisition authority, also known as "other transactions," which are agreements other than government contracts, grants and cooperative agreements. Exempt from the Federal Acquisition Regulation, accounting standards and other statutes, this authority gives an agency more flexibility in doing business with a company that has traditionally not worked with the government.

Loosely modeled after the Defense Department's other transactions framework, DHS moved quickly by issuing guidance, policy and a management directive on how the other transactions authority should be implemented. But the GAO report said, among other things, DHS did not train contracting and program staff properly so they could fully understand and use the other transactions authority.

The report cited the Science and Technology Directorate's use of the pilot program to develop two projects

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