Lower value contracts in the Department of Homeland Security that are overseen by operating components are not adequately managed and are lacking proper oversight, according to an internal audit report released on Tuesday.
Of the contract actions reviewed, the Inspector General’s office discovered lost files, missing documents and signatures, overdue contract closeouts, and in one instance a contracting exceeding their authority on a contract amount, says the report.
“DHS has made improvements in providing oversight for lower dollar contracts; however, more work is needed,” the IG says in the report, Inadequate Oversight of Low Value DHS Contracts (OIG-19-50). “Lost contract files, missing procurement documents, missing authorization signatures, exceeded warrant level, and missing contract closeout caused components to mismanage contracts, misspend funds, and not comply with Federal, Department, and component contract policy requirements.”
The report says that its review showed two contract files worth $4.9 million couldn’t be located and in one case the department couldn’t recover about $1 million from a contractor due to missing files. It also says that four contracts valued at $9.4 million lacked authorizing signatures.
Low value, or non-major, acquisitions, refer to those that have life-cycle cost estimates below $300 million, which under DHS regulations are overseen by the acquisition executives in each department component.
The DHS IG says the various contract management failures are due to a lack of a “comprehensive contract management process,” and inadequate oversight by procurement personnel to ensure that contract officials complied with processes.
In response, the DHS Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa disagreed that contract management policies and guidance are lacking throughout the department.
“The report provides no basis to conclude the OIG’s findings are the result of a lack of contract management policy or guidance, either at the Department level or at the contracting activity level,” the chief procurement officer says in a letter to the IG’s office after reviewing a copy of a draft report. “In addition to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the Department has a thorough departmental policy established and documented in the Homeland Security Acquisition Regulation (HSAR), Homeland Security Acquisition Manual (HSAM), and in individual contracting activities’ supplemental guidance that address contract files maintenance and required reviews and approvals.”
For its review, the IG said in fiscal year 2016 DHS had over 5,000 contract actions valued at nearly $2.4 billion. The audit looked at 29 contracts worth $153.2 million and found DHS “did not document their oversight in the procurement files for 18—about 62 percent—of the 29 contract files reviewed.”