Absent Oversight of Competition Waivers
A July 30 GAO Report, GAO-04-874, highlights the lack of oversight of DoD contract and program officers that grant competition waivers.
Preference for Incumbents, Described as Unique Services or Logical Follow-Up.
In requesting contract services, program offices often requested that contracting officers waive competition and retain contractors already providing the services. This preference for the incumbent contractor was particularly evident in the 26 waiver cases that cited the unique services or logical follow-on exceptions as the basis for the waivers. [p. 8]Illogical Follow Up.
DOD regulations do not specify what constitutes a logical follow-on to an order already issued on a competitive basis, how recent the previous competitive order should be, or whether there are any limits on the number of times the follow-on exception to competition may be used.[p. 9]No Guidance
The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement offers no guidance on the correct application and interpretation of waivers. [See p. 9]
Another factor relevant to addressing program office requests for waivers is the lack of specific requirements for the documentation needed to support a waiver. The DOD regulations state that each order for services exceeding $100,000 must be awarded on a competitive basis unless the contracting officer waives this requirement on the basis of a “written determination” that one of the exceptions applies to the order. The regulations do not specify a particular format or the type of information that is needed to support a waiver. In particular, there is no requirement that the written determination describe the specific facts and circumstances that justify waiving competition. [p.11]No Oversight
Finally, the DOD regulations do not require that waiver determinations be approved above the level of the contracting officer, regardless of the amount of the order. [p.12]