Focus of IG investigation now oversees GSA’s IT supply schedule program

An ongoing investigation by the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general into contract steering and wasteful spending raises questions about a former OPM official who left the agency in September 2011 to oversee the General Services Administration’s biggest federal supply schedules program.

The probe found that top OPM officials steered consulting work to prominent human resources expert Stewart Liff, raising broader concerns about the overall procurement practices inside the agency’s human resources services division, according to an interim report by OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland.

Investigators found that Liff was hired in 2010 and 2011 without competitive bidding through a “pass-through company,” with three task orders paid out on the contract totaling about $450,000.

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Rep. Graves requests contract reforms in next NDAA

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Small Business Committee, said on April 17 he would like several small-business contracting reforms, including a proposal to boost the annual small-business contracting goal, in the new defense authorization bill.

He made the recommendation to the Armed Services Committee in a hearing in which several House members asked the committee to include its suggested language in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The committee is expected to release its language for the bill May 7.

“Improving small business opportunities for federal contracts is a triple play,” Graves told the committee in testimony. Small companies win more contracts, which create jobs, he said. Companies also bring more competition and innovation to the market and the government saves money through this and the industrial base stays healthy, added Graves.

In March, Graves’ committee approved eight bills to reform contracting and help small companies in the federal marketplace.

He pointed out that the Armed Services Committee’s own Panel on Business Challenges and the Small Business Committee’s legislation actually complement each other.

The panel concluded that small businesses face particular challenges in contracting with the Defense Department. DOD lacks a culture that fosters small-business participation, it said. More broadly, DOD has a confusing acquisition rule book that constantly changes, the panel said.

As for small-business reforms, one bill would raise the governmentwide small-business contracting goal from 23 percent to 25 percent — with budgetary consequences for missing the mark. Others would increase the level of responsibility for small-business advocates inside each agency, improve mentor-protégé programs and tackle unjustified contract bundling.

Another bill would address a deceptive contracting practice called pass-throughs. In a pass-through, a small company wins a contract set aside just for certain companies and then passes the majority of the work onto a large company.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article was published on Apr. 17, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/04/17/sam-graves-armed-services-committee.aspx?s=wtdaily_190412.