GAO issues acquisition best practices framework

The Government Accountability Office has found that acquisition success depends on instituting best practices in four broad areas, including data management and security.

Auditors said agencies should align their organizations so acquisition professionals have clear and defined roles and leadership gives officials the ability to make strategic decisions; have transparent policies that are implemented consistently; invest and train their workforces; and manage their data so it is timely, reliable, accurate and secure.

GAO last week defined and outlined these best practices in a new document, titled “A Framework for Assessing the Acquisition Function at Federal Agencies.”

“The framework is designed to translate the knowledge we have gained through years of auditing into a structured and constructive approach for agencies to establish an efficient and effective acquisition function,” said Kathleen Schinasi, GAO’s managing director for acquisition and sourcing management. “It is hard to imagine that an agency could carry out its mission without one.”

Part of the reason GAO issued this initial framework is that it added interagency contracting to its high-risk list this year and ongoing procurement challenges agencies face, Schinasi added.

“GAO developed the framework to enable high-level qualitative assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the acquisition function at federal agencies,” the framework said.

The guide will help agencies identify weaknesses and improve the ability of inspectors general and other oversight organizations to identify areas requiring follow-up work, GAO said.

In the document, GAO focused on the best practices for managing data. Auditors said IT systems should integrate financial, acquisition, operating and management information, and let officials have access to relevant information to perform ad-hoc analyses.

The contract management system should track all the contractual events, including key milestones, closeout, cost and trouble spots and how those problems are dealt with. Agencies also should have financial data that includes funds spent and funds available, and establish metrics to assess the effectiveness of the acquisition function.

GAO also listed eight pitfalls that agency officials should look out for, such as not collecting a full set of information to make decisions or lack of system integration.

Additionally, auditors listed best practices for translating data into meaningful formats, analyzing spending and data security and stewardship.

“As government contracting continues to grow in size and scope, having sound processes and procedures in place and the controls to make sure those are translated into practice are critical to getting the outcomes we pay for,” Schinasi said.

About the Author

Connect with the GCN staff on Twitter @GCNtech.

Featured

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

  • Defense
    DOD cloud

    Esper still mulling JEDI strategy

    Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he's examining the strategy and execution of the DOD's planned $10 billion cloud buy and doesn't have a deadline to complete his review.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.