The three regional procurement offices (RPO) of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) procure supplies and services to support the medical facilities within their regions: Central, East, and West. In fiscal year 2021, RPO West obligated about $2.7 billion in contracts. The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed whether RPO West contracting officials administered contracts and accepted supplies and services in accordance with federal and VA regulations. To protect veterans and taxpayer dollars, contracting officials must maintain the necessary evidence to demonstrate compliance with contract terms and conditions. The review team examined files for a random sample of 49 contracts, valued at over $100,000 each, awarded from January 1 through June 30, 2020, and 93 invoices associated with these contracts. The OIG found RPO West contracting officers and contracting officers’ representatives did not always maintain documentation to demonstrate proper acceptance of supplies and services. The team determined several factors contributed to noncompliance, including officials not understanding their responsibilities, heavy workload, ineffective oversight, and prioritization of awarding contracts. RPO West contracting officials’ noncompliance with developing and maintaining required documentation resulted in $12.8 million in questioned cost. Until VHA improves oversight of contracting officials and ensures their compliance with federal regulations, it lacks assurance that veterans are receiving critical supplies and services. The OIG made eight recommendations to RPO West’s executive director, including establishing controls to ensure electronic files are created for all contracts requiring a representative, delegation memorandums are completed when required, and representatives upload required acceptance documentation. The executive director should also assess existing contracts for compliance and correct as needed. In addition, branch chiefs should consistently monitor contract administration documentation, and create a quality assurance process that ensures requirements are met.
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
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