Competition for Services and Recent Initiatives to Increase Competitive Procurements

March 15, 2012

In fiscal year 2011, the competition rate for DOD's non-R&D services was almost twice the competition rate as that of products, and almost 20 percent higher than that of R&D services. 

From fiscal year 2007 through 2011, competition rates for non-R&D services have been nearly 80 percent and have not changed significantly across DOD, but have declined at the Air Force, dropping from 75 percent to 59 percent. According to a DOD procurement policy official, the Air Force competition advocate is assessing the reasons for lower competition rates. When non-DOD agencies procured non-R&D services on behalf of DOD in fiscal year 2011, their average competition rate was 81 percent, slightly higher than the average rate of 78 percent for DOD's own contracting offices.

The majority of DOD noncompetitive obligations for non-R&D services in fiscal year 2011 were due to the contractor being the only responsible source for the procurement. The second most cited exception was "authorized by statute," for example, awards under the Small Business Administration's 8(a) business development program. Based on prior GAO work, a variety of factors can affect competition, including reliance on contractor expertise and data rights, the influence of program offices, and unanticipated events such as bid protests. GAO analysis of the justifications for noncompetitive contracts identified examples of these factors affecting competition for DOD procurements in fiscal year 2011. 

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