Contracting

Watchdog: GSA isn't clearing all contactors for work on telecom transition

Shutterstock image ID: 569172169 By Zenzen 

According to an oversight memo, the General Services Administration didn't complete required background checks on all contractors working on transition duties for the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Systems contract.

According to the June 29 memo, the GSA's inspector general found that the group supporting the move to EIS allowed contractors to do support work on the Transition Ordering Assistance task order without completing required security clearances.

The transition task orders help agencies plan their move to EIS with consulting help for the complex changes that may be needed.

In one instance, a contract employee who worked on the EIS task order for the Federal Acquisition Service for several months without a GSA badge or email address was later found to be "intentionally withholding the background investigation paperwork for personal reasons."

The IG said the initial discovery of two security deficiencies led to the finding of more than a dozen instances of contractors working on the task orders prior to getting favorable interim determinations between April 2017 and January 2018. FAS spent more than $675,000 for work by contract employees who did not meet the background investigation provisions of the task order, according to the IG report, possibly putting networks and systems in jeopardy.

"We are concerned that FAS is relying solely on the…contractor to ensure compliance instead of independently verifying that contract employees have received favorable interim determinations," the report states.The IG called for GSA to implement tighter management controls to make sure background check requirements are met.

GSA generally agreed with the IG's report and recommendations, but explained that officials had taken concrete steps, such as instituting monthly invoice meetings with contractors that include a review of the background investigation status of contract employees.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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