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."