Skinner: TSA cut corners on sole-source awards


The Transportation Security Administration did not fully justify the lack of competition for 15 single-source contracts totaling $469 million that it awarded in fiscal 2006, according to a new report from Inspector General Richard Skinner.


The 15 contracts represented nearly all the 16 noncompetitive single-source contracts awarded by TSA that year. The only contract in that category that met all justification requirements was for purchase of an optical device that cost $225,000.


The single-source contracts represented 31 percent of the $1.5 billion in total procurements by the agency that year.


The TSA, when it was created by Congress in 2001, was allowed an exemption from the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Under the exemption, TSA was allowed to award noncompetitive single-source contracts when they can be justified in the best interests of the agency. Congress repealed the exemption, which expired in June 2008.


In fiscal 2006, TSA’s justification requirements for such contracts included performing a market analysis, obtaining various approvals and describing actions to improve competition in the future.


However, in practice, the agency complied with some of those requirements and did not comply with others, the inspector general said. As a result, TSA does not know whether the single-source contracts awarded were in the best interests of the agency.


“The explanations that contracting officers, program managers and other knowledgeable individuals provided us for the noncompliances indicate that the Transportation Security Administration needs to improve its internal control environment,” the report said. TSA officials agreed with the inspector general’s recommendations for improvements.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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