EPA has three-pronged strategy for correcting procurement woes

Starting a new contract writing system, investing in its workforce and finding savings are the top priorities for EPA's acquisition officials

The Environmental Protection Agency’s acquisition officials today acknowledged problems with procurement data in its old contracting system, but expect that the agency's new contracting system shouldn't have the same weaknesses.

Auditors found anomalies in EPA’s current Integrated Contracts Management System’s (ICMS) data, according to a report released today by from EPA’s inspector general. The situation “cast suspicion over the validity of the processed transactions,” the report states. These anomalies include transactions processed on non-standard workdays and dollar values with unusually high values, the report adds.

Auditors also found discrepancies between EPA’s various offices that “call into question what actual information should be entered into ICMS.”

The ICMS generates documents critical to the procurement process and recorded contract values totaling approximately $15 billion for fiscal 2007 and $17.5 billion for fiscal 2008, the report states.

The auditors said EPA needs better data to strengthen its reliability for reporting and accuracy before suspected errors are transferred into the agency's new EAS acquisition system.

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In response to the report, John Gherardini, acting director of EPA’s Office of Acquisition Management, wrote that his office has continued a two-tiered approach for reviewing contracts before moving them from ICMS to EAS, and officials are developing a plan to ensure that agency employees review closed contracts for accuracy.

Gherardini also wrote that his office is having employees go through an orientation on reviewing EAS’ migrated data.

Standing up EAS is one of three top priorities for EPA’s acquisition officials, according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice in which they lay out their vision for the future.

On the whole, EPA’s acquisition officials seek to save time and money with the new EAS, as well as developing its acquisition workforce’s size and skills, officials wrote in the notice, which was originally posted June 8.

Implementation of the new contract writing system is expected to result in better communication and a more timely acquisition process, the notice states. Similarly, OAM officials expect better collaboration and decision-making prowess among procurement and program employees if the agency builds up its acquisition workforce, the notice states.

The workforce includes three components: the contracting officers, the program or project managers, and the contracting officers technical representatives who check up on contractors after a contract is awarded and work has begun.

Officials said the EAS and a strong acquisition workforce will make the agency more efficient and save it money, especially because of pre- and post-award contract management, the notice states.

“These savings will result in additional capability and capacity for mission programs, thus enabling the EPA to accomplish more toward top agency priorities,” officials wrote. In the notice, EPA officials also plans to reinvest some of the money into the acquisition workforce, which helps to create the savings.

About the Author

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


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