OFPP ensuring GWACs meet quality standards, manage risks

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is reviewing quality assurance and risk management plans from the four agencies that are authorized to run governmentwide acquisition contracts.

OFPP requested these plans in September after interagency contracting came under fire from the Government Accountability Office, agency inspectors general and Capitol Hill, and abuses surfaced at the General Services Administration in 2004.

'The impetuses are the abuses we've all heard about with ordering and scope,' said Victor Powers, program director of the National Institutes of Health's IT Acquisition and Assessment Center. 'OFPP wants to ensure we are providing value-added services to our agency customers and not just making money.'

NIH is one of four agencies designated by the Office of Management and Budget to run a GWAC. The Commerce Department, GSA and NASA are the other three.

Powers and others spoke today at a conference in Arlington, Va., sponsored by the Coalition for Government Procurement, an industry trade association in Washington.

The quality assessments and risk management reports require agencies to discuss how they will train contracting officers and measure their performance to make sure they are following all the procurement rules, Powers said.

'OMB wants us to maintain the integrity of the contracts,' Powers said. 'Whether the work was in scope is a big issue now more than ever, and how we are helping agencies meet their mission and not just making money.'

Powers added that the quality assessments and risk management reports were not easy to do because they had to develop performance metrics and detail where the risks are and how they will mitigate them.

Powers wasn't sure what OFPP would do after reviewing the reports'whether recommendations would come down from the Services Acquisition Reform Act panel or as policy changes or in another form.

The reports, however, are part of a larger effort by the administration to require agencies to justify the need for their GWAC. Joanne Woytek, program manager for NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement III (SEWP III), said the business case her office put together for the upcoming SEWP IV was one of the more rigorous ones ever.

'We had to really strengthen what we provide and how we provide it in the business case,' she said. 'We emphasized a strategic sourcing environment where the agency uses SEWP as a basis and we tailor their needs around SEWP instead of them having to start over each time.'

OFPP also is reviewing the GWAC business cases for duplicity with other GWACs and multiple award contracts, officials said.

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