Increased Emphasis on Improving Procurement Practices

Gao ID: 115401 June 3, 1981

GAO examined certain provisions of the fiscal year 1982 defense authorization bills to determine whether they are matters on which the Office of Federal Procurment Policy (OFPP) should be expected to make recommendations to Congress. S. 815 would remove from the requirements of the Brooks Act the procurement of automatic data processing (ADP) equipment or services by the Department of Defense (DOD) for five purposes. A primary justification for this revision is the failure of the air defense attack warning system. The problems of this system are not related to the implementation of the Brooks Act, but they are attributable to poor planning and management. Any legislation dealing with this matter at this time would be premature. An amendment to S. 815 has the objective of enhancing competition by reducing sole-source awards. It would require a 30-day public notice prior to the award of sole-source contracts involving amounts in excess of $100,000 and consideration of any offers received as a result of that notice. This section needs careful assessment and revision by OFPP. Provisions in H.R. 3519 would raise the $10,000 limit for small purchases to $25,000, raise the threshold established in the Truth in Negotiations Act, and raise the statutory threshold for review of determination and findings for research and development contracts. The inclusion of such matters in a statute before they have received appropriate review by OFPP is premature. The small purchases ceiling is a matter of government-wide importance, and any change in the ceiling should be based on the level that would prove most effective and efficient for all agencies. Separate action for DOD alone is not appropriate. There seem to be compelling reasons for referring the other two threshold matters to OFPP for review. GAO urges review of restrictions on the contracting out of commercial- and industrial-type functions and strongly urges that the concept of multiyear contracting for weapon systems be included in the uniform procurement statute. The fiscal year 1982 authorization bills might declare the intent of Congress to thoroughly assess, in actual practice, multiyear contracting for selected major systems before final legislation is designed. OFPP should prepare a multiyear contracting section for the uniform procurement statute covering commodities, supplies and services, and multiyear leasing and multiyear lease purchase agreements.

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