DOD lifts restrictions on Interior's acquisition services

The Defense Department lifted its restrictions on the Interior Department’s acquisition services after the DOD inspector general saw improvements, according to memos.

“The DOD IG noted improvements in multiple areas, including advance payments, and proper use of DOD funding,” Shay Assad, director of Defense procurement, acquisition policy and strategic sourcing, wrote March 27 to Nina Hatfield, deputy assistant secretary for business management and wildland fire at Interior.

“I have determined that it is necessary and in the interest of the Department of Defense to use” DOI’s Acquisition Services Directorate, Assad wrote.

The Acquisition Services Directorate was formerly called GovWorks.

DOD is a major customer of the directorate, accounting for 56 percent of the directorate’s contracting actions from October 2006 to February 2007, according to a DOD IG report.

Assad based the decision to allow purchasing again on a DOD IG memo sent March 14 to John Young Jr., undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

IG Claude Kicklighter wrote that the directorate had made substantial improvements to comply with Defense procurement and funding requirements, although problems linger.

He found that the directorate had stopped billing DOD in advance and using expired funds for purchases made for the department. It was changing its practice of funding multiple DOD contract actions from single funding documents. Kicklighter also found the directorate’s procedures of processing waivers on a temporary basis worked well, and it was keeping better records, he wrote.

There were still potential problems. The IG still found questionable competition practices and inadequate surveillance for purchases. But many of the problems related to furniture purchases, which the IG had identified in previous audits. Assad imposed restrictions on furniture purchases.

“Since the problems were isolated and the vast majority of contracting did follow [regulations], we recommend that you lift the restriction of DOD’s use of GovWorks,” Kicklighter wrote.

In May 2007, Assad restricted DOD’s purchases from the Interior Department’s assisted-acquisition services shop to $100,000 because the DOD IG found problems with its attempts to fix its contracting and funding processes.

Congress in the fiscal 2006 Defense Authorization Act required the DOD IG to review GovWorks, NASA and the Treasury Department to ensure the organizations were following federal procurement rules and laws. The IG audit revealed problems with GovWorks and recommended DOD stop using the service.

About the Author

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

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