IG: DHS improves management for non-competitive contracts

Acquisition officials at the Homeland Security Department have improved their management oversight of contracts that are not awarded in full-and-open competitions, according to a new report.

Officials have strengthened DHS’ guidance on contracting, and they completed more reviews of the different aspects of a procurement to validate that it complies with the guidance, according to an inspector general’s report released Feb. 21.

The IG office’s review found fewer problems with documenting the reasons for awarding a contract without a full competition and planning an acquisition. Contracting officials are conducting more market research and more often considering companies’ past performances in federal work. The IG has found decreases in problems like these since fiscal 2008.

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The department awarded about $929 million through non-competitive contracts during fiscal 2011. The IG reviewed 40 contract files, worth more than $731 million.

DHS still is not perfect though. The IG said officials need to do more to ensure that the contract files are documented accurately and completely.

In reviewing contract files, auditors found the files didn’t always have sufficient evidence for acquisition planning or that contracting officers considered a vendor’s past work.

“DHS cannot be sure that it received the best possible value on the goods and services acquired through these contracts,” according to the report. It’s even uncertain that DHS awarded contracts to qualified companies without those files.

The IG recommended that DHS officials ensure their acquisition employees include in their contract files evidence of advanced planning for a non-competitive contract and that they checked the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, a database of past performance and other data on contractors.

DHS officials agreed with the recommendations.

About the Author

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

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