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The independent verification process in decommissioning, decontamination, and reutilization activities - description, benefits, and lessons learned

Description: Oak Ridge National Laboratory Environmental Technology Section has been performing Independent Verification (IV) activities for U.S. DOE sites since 1986. DOE has successfully used IV in the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Program, Decontamination and Decommissioning projects, and Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Projects/Surplus Facilities Management Program. Projects that have undergone IV range from small residential properties to large, industrial sites. The IV process provides a third-party review conducted by an independent organization. The purpose is to verify accuracy and completeness of contractor field measurements and final documentation, evaluate the credibility of procedures, and independently assess post-cleanup conditions versus decommissioning project plans and release criteria. Document reviews of plans, dose models, procedures, and reports are some IV activities undertaken. Independent measurements are also collected during field visits to confirm the contractor`s findings. Corrective actions for discrepancies are suggested if necessary. Finally, archival and reporting of the final site environmental conditions for project closeout and certification are completed. The IV contractor reports to DOE headquarters and acts as a quality assurance feedback mechanism. An IV also provides additional assurance that projects are planned, carried out, and documented properly. Decommissioning projects benefit from the IV process by: (1) cost and time savings from early identification of potential problems, (2) assurance that cleanup meets regulatory guidelines, and (3) technical reviews and consultation with experts in field instrumentation, sampling strategy, etc. Some lessons learned from the IV process include avoiding: (1) improper survey techniques, (2) reporting data in units not comparable with guideline values, (3) premature release of surfaces, (4) poor decommissioning project planning, (5) misapplication of release guidelines. 20 refs.
Date: June 1, 1997
Creator: Egidi, P.V.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Postal Service's National Office Supply Contract Has Not Been Effectively Implemented

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Over the past 2 years, the Postal Service has experienced growing financial difficulties. In an effort to transform the organization to reduce costs and increase productivity, the Postal Service awarded a national-level office supply contract to Boise Corporation. In addition, the Postal Service required Boise to submit a subcontracting plan, which outlines how small, minority-, and woman-owned businesses will be reached through the contract. GAO was asked to assess the status of the Postal Service's implementation of the Boise contract and Boise's achievement of its subcontracting plan. GAO also reviewed the extent to which the Postal Service is buying office supplies directly from small, minority-, and woman-owned businesses."
Date: January 17, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: OFPP Policy Regarding Share-in-Savings Contracting Pursuant to the E-Government Act of 2002

Description: Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In January 2003, we issued two reports that provide insight regarding the share-in-savings (SIS) provisions of the E-Government Act of 2002: one on critical elements of training for new acquisition initiatives and one on commercial practices that foster successful SIS contracting. As follow-up to these reports, we are writing to underscore the need for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) to ensure (1) that members of the federal acquisition workforce understand and appropriately apply this new authority and (2) that appropriate data are collected and available to meet mandated reporting requirements regarding the effective use of SIS contracting. SIS contracting represents a significant change in the way the federal government acquires information technology. In our report on improving training for new acquisition initiatives, we emphasized the importance that industry and government experts place on training to successfully implement such change. Training on this information technology acquisition initiative will be essential to its effective implementation. In our report on SIS contracting, we highlighted the federal government's limited experience with SIS contracting as well as conditions that fostered successful implementation in commercial SIS contracts."
Date: March 24, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: DLA Properly Implemented Best Value Contracting for Clothing and Textiles and Views the Supplier Base as Uncertain

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) supplies the nation's military services and certain civilian agencies with critical resources needed to accomplish their worldwide missions. During fiscal year 2001, DLA contracts totaled $14.8 billion--$1.2 billion of which was for clothing and textiles. The House Committee on Armed Services directed GAO to determine whether DLA is properly implementing applicable statutory and regulatory guidance for "best value" purchases--those that in the federal government's view provide the greatest overall benefits, not just the lowest price. GAO was also asked to obtain DLA officials' views on the domestic supplier base for key clothing and textile items."
Date: February 28, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Not Following Procedures Undermines Best Pricing Under GSA's Schedule

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Defense (DOD) spends millions of dollars each year to acquire information technology (IT) services through the General Services Administration's (GSA) Federal Supply Schedule (FSS). However, DOD has not been taking steps critical to ensuring that it gets the best services at the best prices. GAO's review of 22 DOD orders revealed that 17 of them were placed without seeking competitive quotes. GSA's established procedures require that agencies seek competitive quotes to ensure that the government gets the best price for IT services. Many DOD contracting officers were unaware of this requirement and placed orders under FSS contracts without seeking quotes from multiple contractors. The Federal Acquisition Regulation covering FSS contracts does not provide clear guidance to contracting officers on these special ordering procedures."
Date: November 28, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Opportunities Continue for GSA to Improve Pricing of Multiple Award Schedules Contracts

Description: Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Each year, federal agencies spend billions of dollars to buy commercial products and services through the General Service Administration's (GSA) Multiple Award Schedules program. The program has grown significantly over the past several years. Currently, federal agencies can directly purchase, through more than 16,000 schedule contracts, over 8 million products from more than 10,000 commercial vendors. In fiscal year 2004, purchases from these contracts totaled more than $32 billion. The multiple award schedules program is designed to take advantage of the government's significant buying power. To maximize savings, GSA negotiates discounts that are equal to or greater than those given to the vendor's most favored customers. This testimony focuses on GSA's historic use of two proven negotiation tools to improve the pricing of schedules contracts--pre-award audits and postaward audits of pre-award information. Pre-award audits allow GSA to avoid potential overpricing by verifying vendor pricing information before contracts are awarded. Postaward audits allow GSA to identify overpricing of awarded contracts and recover overcharges."
Date: July 26, 2005
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Excess Payments and Underpayments Continue to Be a Problem at DOD

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO reviewed the amount of excess payments and underpayments made by the Department of Defense (DOD) to its contractors during fiscal year 1999. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS)--Columbus Center, Ohio reports that contractors repaid $670 million in fiscal year 1999 and closer to a billion dollars--$901 million--in fiscal year 2000. The higher amount for fiscal year 2000 reflects the inclusion of repayments made through offsets of other payments ($269 million) in addition to the amount repaid by check ($632 million). Although small in relation to total contract payments, these amounts represent a sizable amount of cash in the hands of contractors beyond what is intended to finance and pay for the goods and services DOD is purchasing. The 39 large contractors covered by GAO's review returned excess payments totaling $351 million in fiscal year 1999. Seventy-seven percent of these excess payments stemmed from contract administration actions and 18 percent stemmed from billing or payment errors. Large contractors reported resolving $41 million in underpayments during fiscal year 1999. Contractors attributed most underpayments to payment errors made by DFAS--Columbus."
Date: February 22, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Restructuring GSA's Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The General Services Administration's (GSA) Federal Supply Service (FSS) and Federal Technology Service (FTS) play an important role in assisting agencies procure a wide range of products and services. Over the past several years, FSS and FTS purchases have significantly increased, with IT products and services being the primary source of this growth. In April 2002, we identified overlap in FSS' and FTS' IT procurement programs. A management consultant similarly found overlaps in FTS' and FSS' IT sales and marketing functions and contract offerings. To enhance FSS and FTS operational efficiency and effectiveness--in both its IT and non-IT business lines--GSA has undertaken a performance improvement initiative. This testimony focuses on GSA's actions to implement its initiative. It also discusses the importance of enhancing GSA's ability to help agencies strategically purchase products and services."
Date: October 2, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Purchase of Army Black Berets

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Army's decision to issue black berets to all of its forces in just eight months placed enormous demands on the military's procurement system. To meet this challenge, the Department of Defense (DOD) increased the domestic supplier's production, awarded contracts to known foreign sources, and procured berets from additional sources. This testimony discusses DOD's contracting strategy, including (1) the contracting procedures DOD used to buy the berets and (2) the circumstances surrounding waivers to the Berry Amendment, a statutory requirement to buy clothing from domestic suppliers. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) took several steps to expedite award of the contracts. However, DLA failed to (1) provide for full and open competition as required by the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 or (2) obtain a review of these contract actions from the Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Office for possible small business participation. GAO also found that authority to waive the Berry Amendment was delegated to DLA's Director and Senior Procurement Executive by the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics), but later canceled to ensure that any request for a waiver to the Berry Amendment received attention at an appropriate level within DOD. GAO concluded that the eight-month deadline placed DOD in a high-risk contracting situation. In their eagerness to serve the customer, DOD procurement officials chose to shortcut normal contracting procedures. The deadline allowed very little time to plan for the purchase of the berets and little room to respond to production problems."
Date: May 2, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Trends and Challenges in Acquiring Services

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Federal agencies spend billions of tax dollars each year to buy services--from clerical support to information technology assistance to the management of national laboratories. The federal government spent more than $87 billion in services--a 24 percent increase in real terms from fiscal year 1990. Some service procurements are not being done efficiently, putting taxpayer dollars at risk. In particular, agencies are not clearly defining their requirements, fully considering alternative solutions, performing vigorous price analyses, and adequately overseeing contractor performance. This testimony (1) describes service contracting trends and the changing acquisition environment, (2) discusses the challenges confronting the government in acquiring services, and (3) highlights some efforts underway to address these challenges. GAO found that purchases of services now account for about 43 percent of federal contracting expenses--the largest single spending category. The growth of services has been driven largely by the government's increased purchases of information technology services and professional, administrative, and management support services. Poor contract management has undermined the government's ability to obtain good value for the money and continues to be a major problem for the two biggest service purchasers-the Departments of Defense and Energy. Performance-based service contracts and the integration of strategic human capital management into agency planning are two ways to address some of the contract management and human capital challenges."
Date: May 22, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Pilot Program Needed to Improve DOD Identification of Warranty Claims

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's (DOD) plans to develop a pilot program to use commercial sources to improve the collection of DOD claims under aircraft engine warranties, focusing on the: (1) benefits obtained by some private sector users of aircraft engine warranty services; and (2) efforts DOD has made the evaluate the feasibility of establishing a pilot program."
Date: October 29, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Guidance Needed to Promote Competition for Defense Task Orders

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Defense (DOD) spends billions of dollars each year acquiring services through task orders issued under multiple-award contracts or the General Services Administration's federal supply schedule program. However, previous GAO and DOD Inspector General reports found that DOD was not obtaining the level of competition on these task orders that Congress had envisioned. Congress responded by enacting section 803 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002, which requires procedures to promote competition and provides when waivers of competition are allowed. In response to a congressional mandate, GAO identified the extent to which selected DOD buying organizations waived the competition requirements of section 803 and determined the level of competition on orders available for competition. For this review, GAO randomly selected 74 orders at five DOD buying organizations."
Date: July 30, 2004
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Comments on Proposed Services Acquisition Reform Act

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Since 1997, federal spending on services has grown 11 percent and now represents more than 60 percent of contract spending governmentwide. Several significant changes in the government--including funding for homeland security--are expected to further increase spending on services. Adjusting to this new environment has proven difficult. Agencies need to improve in a number of areas: sustaining executive leadership, strengthening the acquisition workforce, and encouraging innovative contracting approaches. Improving these areas is a key goal of the proposed Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA)."
Date: April 30, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Observations on DOD's Financial Relationship With the Anthrax Vaccine Manufacturer

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the contractual relationship between the Department of Defense (DOD) and the BioPort Corporation for production of the anthrax vaccine, focusing on: (1) DOD's investment in BioPort's biologic facility and contracts to produce the vaccine; (2) BioPort's cash flow situation; and (3) proposals to improve the company's financial health."
Date: June 30, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: No Reliable Data to Measure Benefits of the Simplified Acquisition Test Program

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In recent years, the federal government has introduced new ways to streamline the acquisition process. One of those vehicles is the simplified acquisition procedures test program, which removes some of the procedural requirements for buying commercial goods and services. Using the test program, federal procurement officials can make purchases faster than they have in the past for procurements not exceeding $5 million. Congress mandated that GAO determine the extent to which federal executive agencies--at a minimum, the Department of Defense (DOD)--have taken advantage of the test program and any benefits realized. One way to measure use is to examine test program data from the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). It is the central repository of contracting information. In addition to examining FPDS data, GAO looked at data from DOD's data system."
Date: September 30, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: The Air Force Should Improve How It Purchases AWACS Spare Parts

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Over the past several years, the Air Force has negotiated and awarded more than $23 million in contracts to the Boeing Corporation for the purchase of certain spare parts for its Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft. Since they first became operational in March 1977, AWACS aircraft have provided U.S. and allied defense forces with the ability to detect, identify, and track airborne threats. In March 2003, GAO received allegations that the Air Force was overpaying Boeing for AWACS spare parts. This report provides the findings of GAO's review into these allegations. Specifically, GAO identified spare parts price increases and determined whether the Air Force obtained and evaluated sufficient information to ensure the prices were fair and reasonable. GAO also determined the extent to which competition was used to purchase the spare parts."
Date: February 15, 2005
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: A Comparison of DOD and Commercial Airline Purchasing Practices

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's (DOD) purchasing and pricing of commercially available spare parts, focusing on: (1) a comparative analysis between the purchasing and pricing practices of selected commercial passenger and freight airline companies and the practices of DOD; and (2) how airlines and DOD ensure that they are obtaining reasonable prices when buying commercial items from sole-source suppliers."
Date: November 29, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Opportunities to Improve Pricing of GSA Multiple Award Schedules Contracts

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Federal agencies can directly purchase more than 8 million commercial products and services through the General Services Administration's (GSA) multiple award schedules (MAS) contracts. Over the past 10 years, MAS contract sales have increased dramatically--with sales jumping from $4 billion to $32 billion. In addition to simplifying the procurement process, the MAS program is designed to take advantage of the government's significant aggregate buying power. While GSA seeks to negotiate best pricing for its MAS contracts by analyzing vendor-provided information--such as discounts given to other customers and recent sales data for the same or similar items--past reports have found that GSA has not always used pricing tools effectively and that management controls for better ensuring fair and reasonable pricing had been reduced. This report discusses GSA's process for negotiating most favored customer prices for MAS contracts and its efforts to improve the overall quality of negotiations."
Date: February 11, 2005
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Small Businesses Continue to Win Construction Contracts

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Congress appropriates billions of dollars annually to construct buildings and other facilities for military training and operations. Small business have carried out a significant portion of this work. Congress and small business advocates, however, had become concerned that agencies were combining requirements into larger contracts that small businesses could not win. GAO examined the contract bundling of military construction requirements. GAO determined whether (1) overall data on construction contract awards to small businesses indicated that their ability to compete for contracts had been impaired and (2) selected Department of Defense (DOD) contracting offices had combined construction requirements in ways that hampered small businesses' ability to compete. Overall data on military construction contract awards to small businesses revealed that small businesses are generally continuing to win work and that their ability to compete is not being impaired. The Small Business Administration reviewed and approved of DOD's plan to determine whether the construction work being done could accommodate smaller contractors. Small businesses were able to compete for the remaining contracts."
Date: June 22, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Interagency Contract Program Fees Need More Oversight

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Federal interagency contract service programs are being used in a wide variety of situations, from those in which a single agency provides limited contracting assistance to an approach in which the provider agency's contracting officer handles all aspects of the procurement. This increased use of interagency contracts is a result of reforms and legislation passed in the 1990s, allowing agencies to streamline the acquisition process, operate more like businesses, and offer increasing numbers of services to other agencies. Most of the contract service programs GAO reviewed reported an excess of revenues over costs in at least one year between fiscal years 1999 and 2001. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance directs agencies with governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWAC) or franchise fund programs to account for and recover fully allocated actual costs and to report on their financial results. Agencies are to identify all direct and indirect costs and charge fees to ordering agencies based on these costs. However, some GWAC programs have not identified or accurately reported the full cost of providing interagency contract services. OMB's guidance further directs that agencies return GWAC earnings to the miscellaneous receipts account of the U.S. Treasury's General Fund. However, this guidance conflicts with the operations of agencies' revolving funds, which were established by statutes that allow retention of excess revenues. The Federal Supply Schedules program has generated hefty earnings, largely because of the rapid growth of information technology sales. Rather than adjust the fee, however, the General Services Administration has used the earnings primarily to support its stock and fleet programs. However, the significant amount of earnings means that Federal Supply Schedules program customers are being consistently overcharged for the contract services they are buying."
Date: July 25, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Commercial Use of Share-in-Savings Contracting

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Congress and federal agencies are increasingly turning to performance-based contracting methods to enhance the delivery of government services. Share-in-Savings (SIS) contracting--in which the contractor assumes more risk by investing upfront costs but also receives a share in any savings generated by its efforts--is one performance-based technique that Congress is trying to promote. We were asked to examine its use by industry in terms of whether there were any key conditions that needed to be in place to make this technique successful. In conducting our review, we found that the form of SIS used in a commercial contract varied by contract. Some contracts employed a basic SIS approach, in which a contractor's total compensation was paid entirely through sharing a portion of a client's savings or increased revenues. And some employed a tailored approached in which contractors were paid for at least some portion of their time and materials costs, even if savings or increased revenues were not realized. We performed a detailed analysis on four specific contracts to identify conditions that fostered success."
Date: January 31, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Coast Guard's Deepwater Program Needs Increased Attention to Management and Contractor Oversight

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Coast Guard's Deepwater program, the largest acquisition program in its history, involves modernizing or replacing ships, aircraft, and communications equipment. The Coast Guard awarded the Deepwater contract to Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) in June 2002. The Coast Guard estimates the program will cost $17 billion over a 30-year period. ICGS is a system integrator, with responsibility for identifying and delivering an integrated system of assets to meet the Coast Guard's missions. GAO was asked to assess whether the Coast Guard is effectively managing the Deepwater program and overseeing the contractor and to assess the implications of using the Deepwater contracting model on opportunities for competition."
Date: March 9, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Minimal Compliance with New Safeguards for Time-and-Materials Contracts for Commercial Services and Safeguards Have Not Been Applied to GSA Schedules Program

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Federal agencies have used time-and-materials (T&M) contracts to purchase billions of dollars in services. These contracts are risky because the government bears the risk of cost overruns. Effective February 2007, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) was revised, pursuant to a statutory change, to allow T&M contracts to be used to acquire commercial services under FAR Part 12, which uses a streamlined procurement process. Certain safeguards were included in FAR Part 12, including a requirement that contracting officers prepare a detailed determination and findings (D&F) that no other contract type is suitable. Based on a mandate to review the use of T&M contracts for commercial services, we assessed (1) agencies' reported use of such contracts and what they acquired, (2) the degree to which agencies complied with the new safeguards, and (3) the applicability of the safeguards to General Services Administration (GSA) schedule contracts. GAO reviewed contracts and orders at DOD and civilian agencies and spoke with contracting officials."
Date: June 24, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Contract Management: Service Contracting Trends and Challenges

Description: Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO reviewed several issues concerning service contracting trends and challenges facing the government. The government has had long-standing difficulties in managing service contracts, and it is clear that agencies are not doing all they can to ensure that they are acquiring services that meet their needs in a timely and cost-effective manner. Agencies have begun efforts to address their strategic human capital needs; however, no agency has completed a strategic human capital management plan for their acquisition workforce. Overall, agencies' plans reflected different levels of attention to human capital, ranging from merely identifying human capital challenges to putting forward solutions to address those challenges, such as by defining actual plans, committing resources, and assigning accountability."
Date: August 22, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department