Use of Consultants by the Department of Justice

Gao ID: GGD-81-55 April 17, 1981

A review was performed of the Department of Justice's use of consultants including the extent to which consultants were used, the purposes for which they were used, possible conflicts of interest, and the procurement practices employed to award consulting contracts.

Justice used outside consultants sparingly with the exception of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) and Justice's litigative divisions. However, the procurement practices used in awarding these consulting service contracts did not always insure that costs were being minimized. The litigative divisions awarded the majority of their contracts on a sole-source basis, which limits competition and can result in increased cost. Although LEAA awarded its contracts competitively, it reimbursed the majority of its contractors on a cost-plus-fixed-fee basis where the contractor has little incentive to reduce cost. GAO believed that the nature of the contracts and the contractors involved did not create the appearance of any conflict of interest. In order to improve its management of consulting service contracts, Justice has created a preaward contract review committee to monitor contracting practices. GAO believes that this action should have a positive effect on Justice's future procurements.

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