March Madness is here! I hope your brackets are doing well. So far, mine haven’t been “busted,” but Notre Dame looked mighty shaky in that opening-round win over Princeton.
While I get ready for tomorrow’s games with my Duke Blue Devils and Kansas Jayhawks, I’m keeping an eye on the latest and greatest (or not so great) in government contracting. In this week’s SmallGovCon Week In Review, the GAO releases a major report on the state of government contracting, an IT contractor will pay $45 million to resolve claims of overcharging the government, the SBA proposes to terminate a nonmanufacturer rule class waiver, and more.
Congress is taking a hard look at how to promote increased competition in federal contracting.
Among the provisions in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act is a requirement for the GAO to prepare a report on how the DoD enters into and uses indefinite delivery contracts–and recommendations for changes to promote competition with respect to indefinite delivery contracts.
The number of 8(a) sole source contracts over $20 million awarded by the DoD has been “steadily declining since 2011,” when a new requirement was adopted requiring agencies to prepare written justifications of such awards.
According to a recent GAO report, such awards have dropped more than 86% compared to the period before the justification requirement took effect. The report states that much of the work that was previously awarded on a sole source basis has now been competed.
The Army improperly used FAR 52.217-8 (Option to Extend Services) to extend several contracts for periods much longer than the six-month maximum allowed by the clause.
This conclusion comes from a recent GAO study, in which the GAO determined that the Army improperly applied FAR 52.217-8 in three out of five contracts studied by the GAO. And although the GAO’s report was narrowly focused on a handful of Army contracts, it leads me to wonder whether FAR 52.217-8 is being improperly used on a much broader scale.
Buy Indian Act set-asides might increase following the Department of the Interior’s recent release of a Buy Indian Act National Policy Memorandum.
In the January 2016 Memorandum, the DOI establishes a policy of maximizing the use of the Buy Indian Act and increasing the number of Buy Indian Act set-asides. The Buy Indian Act Memorandum comes in the wake of a GAO Report issued last summer, which criticized the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service for their implementation of the Buy Indian Act.
In a recent GAO review of three agencies’ use of bridge contracts, the agencies in question had “limited or no insight into their use of bridge contracts.”
According to a recent GAO report, a lack of effective guidance for the use of bridge contracts contributed to potential misuse–such as several so-called “bridge” contracts that were longer than three years in duration.
In 1910, William Howard Taft lived in the White House, the Chicago Cubs were just two years removed from back-to-back World Series titles, and Arizona had yet to be admitted to the Union. That summer, Congress passed the Buy Indian Act, a statute authorizing a special federal contracting program for Indian-owned businesses.
Since then, it has been mostly downhill. It took the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) 103 years to issue regulations implementing the Act’s contracting preferences. Now that the regulations are finally in place, the Buy Indian Act program is suffering from lack of effective oversight and implementation. In fact, a recent GAO report found that the BIA and the Indian Health Service could not even clearly articulate whether Buy Indian Act set-aside contracts take priority over other set-asides.
If the Buy Indian Act is ever to live up to its potential, significant changes are needed.