SARA panel: Parameters needed to guide contract growth

Section on Interagency Contracts

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Interagency contracts need boundaries to grow properly because they are springing up across the government with little oversight, transparency or, at times, benefits to agencies, the Acquisition Advisory Panel concluded in its final draft report.

The report, released Dec. 22, recommends several measures to decelerate the growth rate. The panel believes the Office of Management and Budget should review its procedures for creating and continuing interagency contracts, including enterprisewide and multiagency contracts.

The Government Accountability Office and the inspectors general at various agencies have found numerous many with the use of such contracts. Many of those problems are related to "internal controls, management and oversight, and division of roles and responsibilities between the vehicle holder and ordering agency," according to the report.

"These issues can best be addressed with a governmentwide policy that requires agencies to specifically and deliberately address these matters at the point of creation and continuation rather than attempting to remedy these problems at the point of use," the report states.

The panel recommends that OMB and its interagency contracting task force provide agencies with guidelines for starting up and reauthorizing contracts, including criteria and a set timeline for the process. The task force, however, should balance the need for detailed guidance and clear performance goals with the need for some flexibility on the agencies' part, according to the report.

But the government's first task is to collect more data on existing contracts, the report states, including the number in existence, their scope, primary users and related details. And in the interest of transparency, the panel wrote, information should be available for scrutiny by oversight groups and the general public.

“More comprehensive data on other existing vehicles and entities should allow for more effective procedures for avoiding duplication,” the report states.

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