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.

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Reader comments

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 clem munno

Interagency contracting is a failure because offices stop serving the people and only worry about feathering their own nests. These organizations are supposedly self funding. They will do anything to get government employees to use them so that they can collect their fees. The Government supposedly is not to spend money on advertising against one another or business development costs. Government is not industry. You are there to serve the people and not see how much money you can collect. And what happens when they collect too much money? Is it returned to the Treasury? No! They create extravagant work places, or buy more new equipment that they do not need, or they spend more money on traveling, or they send there people to seminars and "training" (more like parties with the contractors). Their price is not better and the quality of product is not better. Buying IT products from GSA Schedule or from the NASA SEWP contract or the NIH contracts or the military contracts do not produce better pricing or products. Arms length dealings between Government and contractors is long gone. Think for a moment. Why would the Government pay for contractor business development people and give them access to Government leadership when they are there to sell to the Government? Do the laws and regulations say that the preferred method of contracting is full and open competition? Interagency contracts create the mentality of everybody being friends and "partners." The mentality is that "I will give you anything you want, not what you need." Interagency contracts are a cancer that is growing so big that waste and abuse cannot be avoided. GAO should not take them off the list. They should join forces with the Office of Inspector Generals at each Agency that has Interagency contracting and destroy the cancer that is there. Start focusing on spending taxpayer money effectively and efficiently to buy what is needed not what is wanted.

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