GSA schedule data lacking, GAO finds

General Services Administration officials often do not gather enough information to show that GSA schedule buyers are getting the best prices, according to new Government Accountability Office report.

Specifically, GSA contract documentation does not always establish that prices on the schedule contracts were based on accurate, complete and current vendor information, adequate price analyses or reasonable price negotiations, according to the report issued earlier this week. GAO officials found such lapses in 60 percent of the 2004 contracts generated in four contracting centers.

GAO officials found that GSA is making less use of control measures that had ensured better pricing in the past. In fiscal 1995, for example, GSA officials conducted 154 pre-award audits of pricing information supplied by vendors. In fiscal 2004, they made only 40 such audits. Post-award audits led to the recovery of about $18 million in the early 1990s, but GSA officials discontinued them altogether in 1997, according to GAO’s report.

Insufficient oversight has hampered an Acquisition Quality Measurement and Improvement Program that GSA officials established in 2003, GAO officials added.

GAO officials made four recommendations:

* Ensure that pre-award audits are completed for new contract offers and extensions of existing contracts.

* Develop guidance to help contracting officers know when post-award audits are needed.

* Revise the Acquisition Quality Measurement and Improvement Program to measure and report on the performance of “pre-negotiation panels,” which are intended to advise the managers of schedule acquisition centers before they enter into talks with prospective vendors.

* Revise the program so that officials can use it to identify the reasons for contract pricing deficiencies and develop plans to correct them.

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