A billion here, a billion there


A memo from the General Accounting Office to the Office of Managament and Budget expresses concerns about the master database of federal procurement action. Among the pervasive errors GAO found:

  • In our 2003 review of the simplified acquisition procedures test program, we found gross errors in the FPDS data. For example, use of the test program by the reported three largest users in fiscal year 2001 was either overstated or understated by millions of dollars. We found similar inaccuracies with the Department of Defense?s data system, which feeds information into FPDS. Because of the unreliability of the data, we could not determine the extent to which executive branch agencies used the test program or assess the benefits realized.
  • In our 2001 review3 of the HUBZone program, we found that the value of contracts awarded to HUBZone firms could have been hundreds of millions of dollars different than reported. The FPDS categorized 1,034 contracts worth $325 million as HUBZone awards even though the Small Business Administration (SBA) had not certified the awardees of those contracts as HUBZone firms. Conversely, FPDS data did not report as HUBZone awards 1,712 contracts worth $589 million with firms that may have been SBAcertified at time of contract award. Although the Federal Procurement Data Center (FPDC) caught some of these inconsistencies through edit checks, FPDC officials said that they had neither the knowledge to correct the data nor the authority to require agencies to correct them.
  • In our 2003 review of task and delivery orders, 4 we found multiple orders reported as single transactions. For instance, an order reported as $11,443,000 in FPDS should have been reported as 87 separate transactions at or over $25,000 and one cumulative transaction for contracts below $25,000.

The memo concldes that as a result of these problems, GAO "could not determine the extent to which agencies had implemented regulations effectively, nor could we assess the impact of acquisition policies governmentwide."

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  1. So our government doesn’t know where all its marbles are? I’m glad to get specifics, but isn’t this the most obvious story ever? And to learn that accounting errors/tricks/improprieties/whatever exist isn’t earth-shattering either.

    I’m underwhelmed, but still pissed.

  2. Doesn’t this show how silly it is for the government to have full responsibility for being the “watchdog” of the accounting industry or of Wall Street, etc?
    Consumers with the help of media should be the watchdogs, but, it’s like the dilemma of public schools: Public schools drag down standards for all schools.
    Either I’m right or George Soros should be the Watchdog Czar.

  3. I’m glad I don’t work for the government so I don’t have to read memos like that.

  4. Of all Federal agencies, I think the GAO is the only one worth a shit.

  5. Of all Federal agencies, I think the GAO is the only one worth a shit

    Not so sure myself. Both the GAO and the CBO are paladins of the Washington perma-frost. “Embarassing” accounts like this are prone to show up during Republican administrations. S’pose it was all straight up 92-2000?

  6. Let me know when you’re going to start talking REAL money.

  7. It’s so easy not to care about money — when it’s other peoples money.

    What does some nameless and clueless beauracrat care about a few million dollars of taxpayer money?

    He will never personally suffer from the mismangement of those funds. He will never personally be blamed for the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars.

    He will just sit in his cube, doing the least amount of work possible to avoid being fired, until the entire system crumbles around him.

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