GSA to DOD IG: We're getting it right

Officials from the General Services Administration Wednesday defended their improvements to the agency’s procurement processes, responding to a yet-to-be-released draft audit that reportedly says little has changed in the agency’s contracting practices.

GSA officials were frustrated that, despite spending the past year to ensure that buys through GSA meet every standard, the draft report from the Defense Department’s inspector general continues to find significant problems – problems that GSA officials said simply aren’t accurate.

GSA Administrator Lurita Doan and Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Jim Williams say they are frustrated by the errors in the audit report and each sent letters to the inspector general.

The DOD IG report has not been released to the public, but draft copies of the report have been circulating.

Williams responded to the draft report on Aug. 17 defending GSA’s contracting processes and procedures.

One example of an error in the IG report, according to GSA officials: The IG report cites six sole-source buys that it says lacks justifications. A senior GSA official, however, said four of those cases can be justified. The other two are too old to be relevant because they are outside of the time period in which GSA has been redoubling its efforts to ensure that procurement rules and regulations were being meticulously followed.

The DOD IG report also finds a dozen violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which prohibits agencies from spending more money then appropriated by lawmakers. GSA believes there is only one.

“We acknowledge that we made a mistake,” said David Bibb, GSA deputy administrator, about that possible violation.

Williams also disagreed with the IG on four of GSA’s Client Support Centers that the report cited as not fully complying with regulations. He wrote that the IG failed to include evidence for focusing on those centers.

“We stand by the findings and conclusions of our draft audit report. To date, nothing has been provided to us to change our position,” an IG spokesman said.

GSA has worked hard to correct any problems and ensure that GSA meets contracting rules and regulations, Bibb said.

GSA is mostly concerned about the agency’s credibility with customers, which it has been trying to rebuild, Bibb said. The report leaves an incorrect impression about how GSA handles procurements, he said.

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