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Interagency contracts face new scrutiny.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy plans to issue new guidance this summer on the proper use of interagency contracts, Deputy Administrator Robert Burton said.

OFPP has recently completed the first census of interagency and agencywide contract vehicles. Burton said it found 54 multi-agency contracts, an additional 13 governmentwide acquisition contracts (IT vehicles) and more than 200 agencywide contracts that may duplicate some of the interagency vehicles.

"Is that too many?" he asked. "My gut reaction is, too many on both scores."

Speaking at a conference of the Coalition for Government Procurement on June 21, Burton said, "No one is really looking at these vehicles from a governmentwide perspective." While OFFP has authority to decide whether GWACs can be created or continued, there is no central oversight of the other vehicles.

He suggested an interagency board might be established to look at whether new agencywide or interagency vehicles should be established and whether existing ones should be renewed.

OFPP Administrator Paul Denett has announced that new rules will be proposed aimed at increasing competition for task and delivery orders under GSA schedules and other IDIQ contracts. He said civilian agencies will be required to seek at least three proposals on those orders, as the Defense Department currently does under its Section 803 rule. (SAA, 6/15)

Burton said OFPP's initiative will also focus on "effective management of task orders," such as ensuring that they are within the scope of the contract and determining whether a task order, rather than a new contract, is the appropriate vehicle for a procurement.

OFPP said task and delivery orders accounted for more than half of federal procurement dollars in 2005, up from just 14% in 2001.

Several bills moving through Congress would mandate additional steps to increase competition. "I think it is wise for us to move forward on these issues without waiting for legislation," Burton said.

The OFPP leaders pushed back at critics of the Bush administration's procurement record. While the dollars awarded without competition have increased since the administration took office in 2001, Denett said dollars awarded with competition have also increased. He said the level of competition has remained relatively unchanged for a decade, with more than 60% of prime contract dollars awarded competitively.

In a June 19 speech at the Federal Acquisition Conference and Expo in Washington, Denett also said it is not true that the number of acquisition personnel has shrunk during the Bush administration. He said there are currently about 28,000 acquisition workers (in the 1102 category), compared with 26,000 when President Bush took office.

Since federal procurement spending has more than doubled during that period, now topping $400 billion a year, Denett acknowledged that more acquisition personnel are probably needed.

Both Denett and Burton said they are taking steps to improve training of those workers. As Burton put it, "The number one challenge that we have is clearly improving the capabilities of our acquisition workforce."

OFPP and the Federal Acquisition Institute recently surveyed acquisition workers, asking the rank and file what types of training they think they need. More than 60% of the employees responded to the survey and the results are now being analyzed, Burton said.
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Publication:Set-Aside Alert
Date:Jun 29, 2007
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