GSA lashes back at DOD IG

A top General Services Administration official said today he was very disappointed by a report from the Defense Department’s inspector general condemning the Air Force for wasting money by using GSA’s assisted-acquisition services.

The report states that DOD wasted $607,000 when it turned to GSA for help in placing 91 orders on an Air Force task-order contract known as Network-Centric Solutions. Officials should have used DOD resources to handle the work and put the money to better use supporting the warfighters, the report states.

“Frankly I take great offense at that.... I don’t appreciate it, and I think they got it dead wrong,” Jim Williams, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said in a speech at a conference hosted by the Coalition for Government Procurement.

Williams said the Air Force had three options in such a circumstance: It could have failed its mission by not doing the work; the service could have handled the work in-house despite its already overworked acquisition staff and still faced failure; or the Air Force could have gone to GSA for help.

But in the Oct. 25 report, the IG concluded, “the use of GSA was not a best-business practice since options were available within DOD at a lower cost.”

Williams said the IG statement assumes DOD’s resources were available to do the work and at no cost to the department.

He said spending $607,000 on a contract with a $9 billion ceiling is a relatively minor amount of money.

Williams added that he had not cleared his comments with the agency before his speech.

The IG report urges DOD’s director of procurement and acquisition policy to require military services to explain why working with agencies outside the department is best for the government and demonstrate that the costs are reasonable.

Despite the report, Williams said GSA is working to regain DOD’s trust. GSA officials are meeting informally and formally with DOD officials. For example, Molly Wilkinson, GSA’s chief acquisition officer, said today she was talking on the phone with a DOD procurement official early this morning while walking her dog.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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