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Government Contracting …..is it transparent enough?

Jan 14, 2011

Operating in a fishbowl, working in a glass house, transparent contracting, these terms all refer to the way that federal contracting must conduct business in order to be completely open in its process.

 

The Federal Government has an overriding obligation to American taxpayers. It should perform its functions efficiently and effectively while ensuring that its actions are in compliance with procurement laws.

 

This transparency approach is necessary to ensure accountability, provide oversight mechanisms, comply with ethical requirements, and fulfill the obligation to taxpayers that funds are being spent wisely and fairly.

 

This transparency is accomplished in a number of ways.

 

Part 5 of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) provides rules concerning publicizing contract actions. This requires contracting officers to disseminate information on proposed contract actions expected to exceed $25,000, by synopsizing in the FedBizOpps.gov. It also requires that proposed contract actions expected to exceed $15,000, but not expected to exceed $25,000, be displayed in a public place, or by any appropriate electronic means, an unclassified notice of the solicitation or a copy of the solicitation.

 

There are other posting requirements in FedBizOpps including sources sought, notices of intention to award sole-source, and contract award notifications.

 

FAR 15.506 provides for, and encourages, preaward and postaward debriefing for unsuccessful bidders.

 

In addition, FAR 4.6 requires that contracts whose value is $3,000 or more and every modification to that contract, regardless of dollar value must be reported to the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation (FPDS-NG). This allows the public to view awarded actions through FPDS-NG or USASpending.gov.

 

Is it transparent enough? Sure.

 

There must be a balance between open procurement and protection of the integrity of competition. Further transparency requirements may only serve as additional burdens which can add to the already rigorous internal controls laid upon contracting officers.

 

Jeffrey Sneddon



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