Agencies spending stimulus bucks through no-bid contracts, GAO finds

SBA, HUD and NASA have 35 percent or more noncompetitive actions

Although most contracts funded by the economic stimulus law are being awarded competitively, a trio of federal agencies avoided competition for 35 percent or more of those agreements, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The Small Business Administration issued 68 percent of its stimulus contracts noncompetitively. NASA used such contracts for 37 percent of its awards, and the Housing and Urban Development Department used them for 35 percent, according to a report issued Nov. 30 by Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.

Overall, the numbers favored competition, with 92 percent of the 27,774 contract actions being issued competitively as of November, GAO said. The Defense Department was responsible for the largest number of contract actions: 6,357, of which 1,250 – about 20 percent -- were noncompetitive.

Five other agencies used noncompetitive contracts for at least 20 percent of their awards:

  • Transportation Department, 22 percent.
  • Environmental Protection Agency, 24 percent.
  • Homeland Security Department, 25 percent.
  • Commerce Department, 29 percent.
  • Agriculture Department, 30 percent.

The economic stimulus law recommends, but does not require, that government agencies issue competitive and fixed-price contracts whenever possible. When agencies award a noncompetitive contract, they must explain their reasons for doing so.

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which oversees stimulus law spending, agreed with GAO’s findings.

The board regularly updates a tally of noncompetitive and non-fixed-price contracts on its Web site, Recovery.gov. As of October, federal agencies had spent about $7.8 billion in stimulus funds on noncompetitive and non-fixed-price contracts.

About the Author

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

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.