Gordon optimistic GAO will remove interagency contracting from high-risk list

Dan Gordon, the outgoing administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said he’s optimistic that the Government Accountability Office will consider removing interagency contracting from its list of high risks and challenges after learning more about the Obama administration’s procurement improvements.

In an interview Dec. 19, Gordon said he and others at OFPP have met with GAO officials to talk about the ways they have addressed issues that put the contracting arrangements onto the list in 2005.

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GAO originally designated interagency contracting management as a high-risk area because of the need for stronger internal controls, clear definitions of roles and responsibilities for the agencies, and training to ensure agencies used them properly.

Gordon said GAO had concerns largely because of abuses that were happening back then. Now though, OFPP and the General Services Administration have put mechanisms in place to correct many of those problems.

“We have addressed their concerns, so that when GAO most recently referred to interagency contracting as problematic, they said the main reason was because of duplication,” he said.

Gordon said he doesn’t believe interagency contracting is duplicatative.

“I’ve explained to our friends at GAO that interagency contracts don’t increase duplication. They reduce duplication,” he said.

Duplication comes when every agency has its own contract. Strategic sourcing initiatives, such the blanket purchase agreements for office supplies and IT, encourage agencies to buy from the interagency contract. An agency won’t be as likely to award its own contract for those items, opting to use the BPA instead.

In the 2011 High Risk List report released in February, GAO wrote that OMB and GSA have established plans that outline steps to correct problems, even though the work is in the beginning stages and will require constant attention to make progress.

GAO updates the list every other year, point out areas of the greatest concern and in need of government officials’ constant attention.

About the Author

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


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