NOAA acquisition needs stronger oversight

NOAA: Next steps to strengthen its acquisition funciton

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has improved its oversight of acquisition activities since it reorganized in 2005, but it still has room to improve, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The 2005 reorganization required that all acquisition divisions report to the agency's director of acquisition and grants. However, the acquisition director does not have the authority to oversee a National Weather Service office that is responsible for a contract worth as much as $500 million, GAO found.

Some field employees have bought goods and services worth millions of dollars without oversight, GAO found. The employees are not contracting officers.

NOAA also lacks a knowledge-based process for developing and producing complex systems, a weakness that could increase the risk of additional costs, according to GAO.

GAO recommends that NOAA establish policies for using a knowledge-based approach for complex acquisitions.

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