Competitive Contracting

Preliminary Issues Regarding FAIR Act Implementation Gao ID: T-GGD-00-34 October 28, 1999

The Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998 requires federal agencies to identify their activities that are not inherently governmental and make this information publicly available. The implementation of the act is in the early stages. Many agencies have only recently released their inventories. Many other agencies' inventories still have not been made available to the public. This testimony focuses on agencies' progress so far in compiling and releasing their inventories. GAO briefly describes the status of the initial steps taken to implement the act. GAO also highlights some of the questions that are being raised by its examination of inventories at the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the General Services Administration.

GAO noted that: (1) most agencies' FAIR Act inventories have been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and consultation, and the first group of inventories is now publicly available; (2) clearly, executive agencies and OMB still have plenty of work ahead to implement the FAIR Act, including the public release of more inventories and the resolution of any challenges; (3) nevertheless, GAO's initial review of selected inventories raise some questions about the efforts thus far which GAO will be reviewing for the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology; (4) these questions concern: (a) the decisions agencies make about whether or not activities were eligible for competition and what the reasons for those decisions were; (b) the processes agencies use to develop their FAIR Act inventories; (c) how useful the FAIR Act inventories are; and (d) what supplemental information can be included to increase the usefulness of inventories; (5) by enacting the FAIR Act, Congress has increased the visibility of agencies' commercial activities; (6) continuing congressional interest in the FAIR Act process is needed in order to maintain serious agency attention to developing and using the FAIR Act inventories; and (7) oversight hearings send clear messages to agencies that Congress is serious about improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations and the effective implementation of the FAIR Act.

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