Ocean Research Fleet

Contracting Practices for Repair of NOAA Ships Gao ID: RCED-89-25 October 31, 1988

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO monitored the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) implementation of recommendations that the Department of Commerce's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) included in two audit reports concerning alleged NOAA procurement of substandard power packs and NOAA contract management weaknesses affecting its vessel fleet. GAO also examined NOAA plans to propose legislation to clarify the application of labor rate provisions to its ship repair contracts.

GAO found that the OIG audit reports recommended: (1) several contract administration changes relating to power pack procurement, including requiring adequate technical specifications and appropriate inspection checkpoints and establishing review and control processes; (2) an additional, independent inspection of the alleged substandard power packs; and (3) several changes to correct problems in the management of ship repair contracts, including improving the timeliness of bid solicitations, correcting technical errors in contract administration, and eliminating excessive and inappropriate contract modifications. GAO also found that OIG: (1) concurred with NOAA proposals for implementing its recommendations; and (2) planned to conduct a follow-up review to ensure adequate implementation of corrective actions. In addition, GAO found that: (1) the Department of Labor advised Commerce that it should apply Davis-Bacon Act labor rate provisions to its NOAA ship repair contracts; (2) Commerce applied Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act provisions to these contracts, since it believed that Davis-Bacon Act provisions were costly and time-consuming; and (3) Labor did not object to Commerce's proposed legislation to allow it to apply Walsh-Healey Act labor rate provisions to cover NOAA vessel construction and repair contracts.

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