Pentagon Fails to Explain Sole-Source Contracts, GAO Says

Aerial view of the , ... ] Aerial view of the , ... ] Defense Department file photo

The Defense Department has made scant headway in justifying its awards of sole-source contracting as required under a fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill, the Government Accountability Office found.

From October 2009 to September 2012, the Pentagon awarded 51 sole-source contracts worth more than $20 million, GAO said in a Feb. 8 letter to the Armed Services Committee chairmen, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.

But in a review of eight of the most recent contracts, Defense contracting officers failed in six cases to comply with 2011 changes in the Federal Acquisition Regulation. “Six contracts did not meet the new justification requirement because contracting officials were not aware of the requirement or because they were confused about the type of justification to complete,” auditors found.

Non-competed, sole-source contracts are permitted under the 8(a) program for developing small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, including Alaska Natives and Native American tribes. But as of March 2011, the Pentagon was required to produce a written justification for such awards.

GAO made no new recommendations since a previous report on the subject, and Defense officials viewing a draft of the letter made no comment.

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