A recent Defense Department inspector general report found that contracting officers and their representatives (COR) at the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity need to step up their game when it comes to improving contract performance and acquisition outcomes.
The report shins a light on a reality hitting many procurement offices, where the intense workload, combined with a lack of enough skilled and trained 1102s, is creating an environment where quality is being sacrificed at the expense of performance.
Just taking a look at the topic headers is an eye-opening example of a procurement organization that is in need of serious improvements:
- Sole-Source Awards Not Adequately Justified
- Price Reasonableness Not Adequately Determined
- Quality Assurance Surveillance Plans Not Prepared
- Inadequate Quality Assurance Surveillance Plans
- Contracting Officer’s Representative Acceptance of Deliverables Not Documented
- Language in Contracting Officer’s Representative Letters Too General
- Invoice Review Needs Improvement
The recommendations are also somewhat disturbing, in that they basically outline what needs to happen to realize improvements and work to improve this organization. Mainly, the recommendations state that contracting officers and CORs need to do their jobs, since some of the responses the IGs received where common in this environment: lack of time, resources, and a focus on production.
Simple tools, such as checklists, can be created to ensure that ALL the requirements of a contract action are achieved. This may seem simplistic, but following the checklists, and having them executed through automated contract systems and solutions, will ensure that the proper steps have been conducted. Basically, contract actions can not bee executed until these issues have been eliminated by ensuring the proper steps an actions by procurement personnel have been followed and verified. This is ultimately creating an environment of accountability, and hopefully improved quality.
I don't have time is not a legitimate excuse, not under any circumstance. However, leadership needs to understand the needs of the organization, provide the proper level of oversight, resources, and training to the procurement staff, and ensure that things are being done properly.
Best practices are plentiful, and they need to be acted on.