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Audit underscores systemic problems at GSA

Nov. 12, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

Flawed internal safeguards have helped lead to botched procurements and other recurrent problems in the General Services Administration’s Washington, D.C., regional offices, the agency’s inspector’s general said in a newly released report.

The report contains little new information, instead summarizing findings from earlier audits covering the period from fiscal 2007 to 2012. But it underscores the magnitude of the cleanup job that GSA officials say is already well under way. Among the problems cited:

■ A $2.6 billion information technology support contract awarded by GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service lacked key elements needed to protect taxpayers from cost growth, the audit said. The task order ran into protests and was eventually canceled. While the contractor is not named, it appears to be Northrop Grumman, based on previous news reports.

■ The Public Buildings Service, another branch of GSA, awarded more than $194 million in modifications for services “with several procurement irregularities and a significant breakdown in management controls,” according to the report. Specifically, the agency reimbursed the contractor — also not named — for more than $10.6 million for services already covered in the fixed price portion of the contract.

■ On a separate $500,000 contract for pre-design services, the buildings service did not award it competitively and did not get proper approval for the contract type used.

“Weaknesses in internal control may have impaired the National Capital Region’s procurement process and the effectiveness of operations,” the audit said. The IG also notes chronic management turnover at FAS, with one division having seven chiefs — four of them acting — from December 2006 to September 2012, while the Public Buildings Service underwent repeated reorganizations during the same time.

In a five-page response, GSA managers acknowledged past weaknesses at the National Capital Region, but touted numerous changes made in the last two years, such as seeking to strengthen acquisition management at the Public Buildings Service and improve internal controls at the Federal Acquisition Service. Regional officials take these matters “seriously,” the response said, and are committed to improving “the quality and effectiveness “ of their operations.

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