EIS delayed by shaky transition contract

The contract to manage the move to the General Services Administration's big telecom vehicle had some big holes and likely contributed to delaying the transition, according to a new watchdog report.

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Ineffective spending, planning and management of a support contract likely contributed to the General Services Administration's decision to delay the implementation of its 15-year, $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract, according to a new report from the agency's inspector general.

According to the report, GSA's Federal Acquisition Service's lax administration of its Transition Ordering Assistance (TOA) contract ran up transition spending at agencies that had little progress to show for it.

In addition, deficiencies in contract monitoring and a lack of interagency agreements to spur EIS adoption likely contributed to delays -- still ongoing -- in implementing the shift to the new contract vehicle.

FAS set up the TOA contract to help avoid the mess that plagued the transition to Networx, the agency's last big telecommunications contract. Shifting agencies to that vehicle took almost three years, resulting in almost $400 million in additional costs and lost savings, said the report.

The TOA contract was envisioned to help federal agencies analyze their transition needs, develop solicitations for EIS services and select EIS contractors. But customer agencies weren't prepared to receive TOA assistance dollars from GSA because there weren't interagency agreements in place between customer agencies and FAS. The vendor, Redhorse Corp., billed those agencies anyway, the report stated.

The IG report came down hard on FAS for failing to monitor the performance of the vendor or to identify overcharging for unqualified labor -- a practice that occurred regularly.

The IG recommended that GSA claw back more than $116,000 in payments to unqualified contractors whose time was billed at a higher rate than was justified. According to reply comments to the report from FAS Commissioner Alan Thomas, the agency has so far recovered $94,621.76 from the contractor.

The report also criticized FAS for not having agreements in place with customer agencies using the TOA vehicle because it hindered contract monitoring. Additionally, for agencies looking for transition services, "the lack of interagency agreements meant that there was no formalized schedule for deliverables to create a corresponding sense of urgency.

In advance of the June 28 report, the IG had previously issued two interim memoranda to FAS: one in January 2018 warning about possible consequences of the lack of interagency agreements and one last June reporting on the lack of background investigations of some contract employees.