IG criticizes DOD, GSA purchasing activities

A newly released report by the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General that criticizes purchases DOD made through the General Services Administration has left each agency assigning some of the blame for the problems to the other.

A 2005 IG report found numerous problems in purchases that DOD made through GSA’s 11 Client Support Centers. A second review this year, as required by law, sought to determine whether GSA and DOD had improved their compliance with acquisition and funding regulations.

The IG said that although GSA and DOD had improved the assisted acquisition contracting process, “they continued to purchase goods and services without fully complying with appropriation law, the Federal Acquisition Regulation and DOD procurement regulations.”

The IG report states that 55 of the 56 purchases reviewed “were either hastily planned or improperly executed or funded.”

Specifically, the report found that:

  • On 55 of 56 purchases, DOD organizations lacked acquisition planning.
  • On 54 of 56 purchases, DOD organizations did not have adequate interagency agreements with GSA.
  • On six of 14 sole-source purchases reviewed, Client Support Centers did not provide adequate justification for sole-source procurements.
  • On 42 of 51 purchases, DOD did not develop and implement adequate quality assurance surveillance plans.
  • On 11 of 54 purchases, GSA and DOD requesting activity used government funds that did not meet the Bona Fide Needs Rule, and on one of 54 purchases DOD requesting activity used the incorrect appropriation.
  • On 11 of 56 purchases, DOD did not maintain an audit trail of the funds used to make the purchase.
The IG singled out four of the 11 centers for not fully complying with DOD procurement and funding regulations.

The IG said the centers were cited for a lack of adequate interagency agreements and for 12 potential violations of the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits agencies from spending any money in excess of the amount available in the appropriation or fund unless authorized by law.

The IG said both agencies were working to correct the problems at the centers.

The undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics should establish requirements so that when a DOD organization plans to use a non-DOD contract, a department-qualified contracting official oversees all purchases that exceed the simplified acquisition threshold, the report states.

Also, the undersecretary should “establish overall DOD policies on acceptable contract administration roles and responsibilities when purchasing goods or services through non-DOD agencies.”

The IG said DOD and GSA are working on a corrective action plan that addresses about 22 areas of concern in the report.

Nevertheless, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service disagreed with the finding that the agencies continue to make purchases without fully complying with appropriations laws and that they were hastily planned and improperly executed.

“GSA recommended the wording be changed to show that DOD officials were responsible for acquisition errors and mismanagement,” the IG report states. GSA also insisted it used funds consistent with FAR “but inconsistent with the DOD guidance as it now appears to be evolving.”

GSA also rebutted the specific instances highlighted in the 56 purchases the IG reviewed.

“Although we believe that GSA has made progress in improving its operation, we do not believe that it is blameless in the flawed acquisitions identified in this report and that DOD should shoulder all the blame,” the report adds.

The IG’s office also said it stands by its specific findings.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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