Contract management continues to be a challenge at Energy

Contract management at the Energy Department continues to be a significant challenge, says an Oct. 7, 2014 DOE inspector general report.

The DOE is the most contractor-dependent civilian agency in the federal government. It awards contracts, grants and other financial assistance to industrial companies, small businesses, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.

About 90 percent of the DOE’s budget is spent through those contracting vehicles, the report says.

The Government Accountability Office has included the DOE on it’s high-risk list since 1990 because of inadequate contract oversight.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/doe-oig-contract-management-continues-be-challenge-doe/2014-10-13

VA contracting official resigns amid agency’s attempt to fire her

A top Department of Veterans Affairs contracting officer who allegedly steered work to a Virginia firm resigned Tuesday, eight days after the agency announced that it had begun the process of firing her.

Susan Taylor, the Veteran Health Administration’s No. 2 contracting official, said in an e-mail to employees that she decided to “resign and retire,” effective Oct. 14. She has worked with the federal government for 29 years, spending four of them with the VA.

“I will definitely miss the terrific staff I have had at VHA, both at headquarters and in the field nationwide, but I know that you will continue to admirably serve our veterans through your dedicated service,” Taylor wrote. She also indicated that the VA is trying to recruit a replacement for her.

The VA inspector general’s office said in a report last month that Taylor helped steer a contract to Vienna-based FedBid and worked with the government-services company to overturn an agency moratorium on work by the firm, in addition to interfering with an investigation of the matters.

keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/10/14/va-contracting-official-susan-taylor-resigns-amid-agencys-attempt-to-fire-her/

SEC audit reveals lapses in laptop inventory, possibly affecting more than 1,000 computers

An internal investigation found that the Securities and Exchange Commission must take more action to better track agency-issued laptop computers.

In the audit dated Sept. 22, the SEC inspector general said that the Office of Information Technology’s inventory failed to include current locations of machines from an operations center that closed last year.

The inventory also had incorrect locations for about 17 percent of the 488 laptops reviewed, incorrect user information for 22 percent of them, and could not account for 24 machines, the audit found. Additionally, the IG said that at least 88 asset management branch workers could delete asset records from the IT Service Management inventory database.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/sec-audit-reveals-lapses-laptop-inventory-possibly-affecting-more-1000-comp/2014-10-01

IG: GSA reduces credit card spending, needs more reform

Although more controls are needed, legislation to assist General Services Administration efforts to prevent waste, fraud and abuse at charge card programs has largely been helpful, an internal investigation found.

In an audit dated Sept. 29, the GSA’s inspector general said that GSA’s purchase card spending between fiscal years 2011 and 2013 fell from more than $69.3 million to about $33.6 million, and travel card spending declined from $17.1 million to about $4.2 million.

“We determined that the risks of illegal, improper, or erroneous purchases and payments made through GSA’s purchase card and travel card programs are medium and low, respectively,” the report states. “As such, we do not plan to conduct any audits of the purchase card or travel card programs in FY 2015.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ig-gsa-reduces-credit-card-spending-needs-more-reform/2014-10-01

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IG finds faults in training of contracting officer’s representatives in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service

A federal certification program, which establishes general training, experience, development and best practices for contracting officer’s representatives, isn’t being applied consistently, potentially leaving them without the necessary skills, abilities and competencies to do their jobs, a recent audit found.

Additionally, the General Services Administration’s inspector general said in the Sept. 29 report that a system designed to oversee the workload and certification status of contracting officer’s representative’s, or CORs, is only accessible to a few managers and supervisors. This means some CORs could possibly conduct unsanctioned work, opening the government up to potential legal problems.

Contracting officers authorize CORs to perform specific technical and administrative duties on contracts or orders. These CORs ensure that federal contractors meet their performance requirements and typically identify if a contractor or program is underperforming.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-ig-finds-faults-contracting-officers-representatives-training-program/2014-10-01

Read the IG’s report at: http://www.gsaig.gov/index.cfm/oig-reports/audit-reports/fy-2014-audit-reports-october-1-2013-to-september-30-2014/

VA official investigated for fraud loses lucrative DOE gig

The Energy Department has withdrawn an offer to hire Susan Taylor, the Veterans Health Administration’s deputy chief procurement officer, because of an investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general that found Taylor violated numerous federal procurement laws and regulations.

In an email obtained by FedScoop dated Sept. 12 — two weeks before the VA’s IG report was made public — Thomas Johnson Jr., the associate deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and project management in DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, announced the selection of Taylor for the career senior executive service position of director of the Office of Procurement Planning, effective Oct. 5.

Two senior officials at DOE familiar with the situation but not authorized to comment publicly, however, confirmed to FedScoop that the offer has been withdrawn based on the VA IG report’s conclusions. “DOE is not hiring Ms. Taylor,” said one of the officials with detailed knowledge of the job offer.

Keep reading this article at: http://fedscoop.com/va-official-investigated-fraud-loses-lucrative-doe-gig

Reverse auctioneer FedBid slammed by VA inspector general

Executives at a popular federal reverse auction contractor have come under fire for taking “significant measures to disrupt and deprive” the Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability “to transact official business honestly and impartially, free from improper and undue influence.” The company and its executives could now face potential suspension or debarment from federal contracting.

In a damning 82-page report released Monday, the VA’s inspector general detailed an orchestrated campaign by FedBid executives to “assassinate” the character of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics Jan Frye after he suspended the use of reverse auctions throughout the agency in 2012.  Investigators also found that Susan Taylor, VA’s deputy chief procurement officer at the Veterans Health Administration, abused her position and “improperly acted as an agent of FedBid in matters before the government.”

What started as an investigation into Taylor’s alleged interference with a review of the FedBid contract soon led the IG to discover Taylor had been giving FedBid preferential treatment, going so far as to disclose proprietary information and pressure contracting staff to award a task order for reverse auction services to FedBid. Although the IG referred the matter to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, DOJ did not press charges and recommended VA take administrative actions.

Keep reading this article at: http://fedscoop.com/reverse-auctioneer-fedbid-censured-va-inspector-general-report/

Senior VA official pressured employees to award FedBid contracts

A Veteran’s Health Administration procurement executive pressured employees and worked the acquisition system to award FedBid contracts for reverse-auctions, a Sept. 26 Veteran’s Affairs Department inspector general report says.

The report says Susan Taylor, VHA’s deputy chief procurement officer, in 2010 pressured staff repeatedly in emails to speed up the acquisition process and pick FedBid – a Vienna, Va. based reverse auction vendor – for the reverse auction contracts.

The report says Taylor, “improperly disclosed non-public VA information to unauthorized persons, misused her position and VA resources for private gain, and engaged in a prohibited personnel practice when she recommended that a subordinate senior executive service employee be removed from SES during her probation period.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/va-ig-senior-official-pressured-employees-award-fedbid-contracts/2014-09-30

FEMA’s 50% rule costing gov’t hundreds of millions of dollars in overpayments

Hundreds of millions of dollars were lost due to a misinterpretation of a Federal Emergency Management Agency rule that funds the replacement or repair of facilities after a natural disaster, according to a recent Homeland Security Department inspector general report.

FEMA’s public assistance program provides financial assistance for people in the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and terrorists attack. The agency spends around $10 billion every year for the Disaster Relief Fund to help people rebuild after a natural disaster.

Under the 50 percent rule, FEMA will replace a facility if the estimated cost of repair exceeds 50 percent of the estimated cost to replace it.

But applying FEMA’s 50 percent repair or replace rule correctly can be very difficult and susceptible to error, misinterpretation and manipulation, the report dated Aug. 7 said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercehomelandsecurity.com/story/ig-femas-50-percent-rule-costing-govt-hundreds-millions-dollars-overpayment/2014-08-21

IG: Google executive broke ethics rules while heading-up DARPA

A Google executive who previously ran a $3 billion Pentagon agency tasked with developing technology for the U.S. military violated ethics rules by pitching products from a company she had previously founded, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pentagon’s watchdog agency.

Regina E. Dugan, who ran the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency from July 2009 until March 2012, was cited by the Defense Department Inspector General’s office for endorsing a specific product, service or enterprise, a breach of ethics.

The IG found that while serving as DARPA’s director she briefed numerous senior defense officials on methods for U.S. troops to find improvised explosive devices and bomb-making facilities. The meetings created potential business opportunities for the company RedXDefense, LLC, in which she was a former chief executive officer, said the IG report, released to The Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act.

“In communications with senior DoD officials, she used RedX proprietary and other materials originally developed for and used in RedX sales presentations,” states the IG report. “She advanced a theory integral to RedX product development, promoted a multi-step process the RedX product suite used to implement the theory, highlighted the results of field trials that used RedX products to demonstrate the efficacy of the theory and process, and featured a RedX sales slogan. She also endorsed the adoption of an effort to put sensors on dogs, an extension of a DARPA project on which RedX performed.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/08/13/watchdog-google-executive-broke-ethics-rules-while-working-for-pentagons-darpa