A Federal Perspective on Evaluating the Evaluators]

Gao ID: 116717 October 2, 1981

GAO discussed the benefits and feasibility of evaluating the evaluators. GAO found that both the House and Senate are actively considering similar bills which would require agencies to evaluate their evaluators. Both bills would provide statutory guidelines concerning the award of contracts for the procurement of consulting services, management and professional services, and special studies and analyses and would clarify the authority for appointment and compensation of experts and consultants. The current efforts of the Administration to reduce the size and cost of Federal programs presents an opportunity to improve program evaluations. Federal officials will need to know the success or failure of programs that are candidates for elimination. Also, in these times of budget reductions, anything that offers the hope of controlling waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the Federal Government is likely to be considered. GAO has issued over 30 audit reports in the last 20 years on this subject, but there still seems to be little evidence that agencies are acting administratively to correct abuses. GAO normally does not support legislative remedies for problems that could be resolved administratively. However, since executive branch agencies, with few exceptions, have not acted administratively, GAO believes congressional action is necessary. Both the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have made efforts to establish data systems and management controls. OMB has issued guidelines for the use of consulting services which supersedes previously issued guidelines. OMB regulations also require the implementation of new personnel data systems that are operated by OPM. The Federal Procurement Data Center collects 110 elements of data on all Federal contracts over $10,000. OMB officials have stated that this system will provide Congress, the Administration, and others with more comprehensive and uniform statistical data than were previously available. Both bills under consideration would require a written agency evaluation of consulting and professional contracts in excess of $50,000. The evaluation would summarize the performance of the contractor based on the terms and specifications included in the contract and on any deviation from the provisions of the contract originally awarded. The Federal data systems being implemented should provide the basic source of data for professional societies for evaluation.

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