Total number of interagency/enterprisewide contracts is anyone's guess

GAO report concludes federal government's official procurement database cannot reliably identify all such vehicles

Federal agencies spend about $60 billion a year on interagency and enterprisewide contracts, but there is limited evidence that they are being effectively used and managed, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Agencies use multiple-award schedule contracts, multiagency contracts, governmentwide acquisition contracts and enterprisewide contracts to buy a wide range of goods and services. The bill for such contracts was estimated at $60 billion in fiscal 2008, but the total was unknown because the total number of contract was unknown, GAO said in the report dated May 24.

“The total number of multiple-award contracts and enterprisewide contracts currently in use by agencies is unknown because the federal government’s official procurement database, [the] Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation, is not sufficiently reliable for identifying these contracts,” the GAO report stated. “This has been a longstanding problem.”

Furthermore, there is limited data to show the effectiveness of these types of contracting, GAO added. And without greater coordination and oversight, it is unclear whether the interagency and enterprisewide contracts are effective in leveraging buying power, and the proliferation of such contracts suggests there may be fewer efficiencies and less cost savings than expected in their use, GAO added.

There are concerns about duplication, lack of information, pricing and management. “Data are lacking and there is limited governmentwide policy to effectively leverage, manage, and oversee these contracts,” the GAO wrote.

Duplication of products and services offered on multiple acquisition vehicles has created uncertainty about best pricing. For example, with the General Services Administration’s multiple-award schedule program, there are tools and controls to obtain best prices, but it is not clear whether those tools are achieving that goal, GAO continued.

“A lack of data, decentralized management, and limitations in assessment tools create challenges for GSA in managing the multiple-award-schedule program,” the report said.

GAO makes recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget to strengthen policy, improve data and better coordinate agencies’ awards of multiple-award contracts and enterprisewide contracts. It also recommended to GSA to improve pricing and management of the multiple-award schedule program. Both agencies agreed with the recommendations.

 

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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