Further Action Needed to Improve Management of Special Acquisition Authority
May 8, 2012
In the last 8 years, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate has used its special acquisition authority to enter into 58 "other transaction" agreements. Use of the authority has declined since 2005. DHS officials said the decline is due to uncertainty about the agency's continuing authority to enter into these agreements, among other things.DHS has made progress in addressing challenges and prior GAO recommendations related to its use of other transaction agreements in five areas.
GAO's analysis of DHS's files and reports to Congress found gaps in the collection and reporting of information on other transactions. Specifically:
- DHS does not consistently document the rationale for entering into an other transaction agreement in the agreement analysis document, although DHS guidance requires it to do so.
- Recent annual reports to Congress did not contain information on all other transaction agreements.
- DHS does not collect information on the circumstances that permit the use of other transaction authority throughout the life of the agreement.
Without complete information about the universe of other transaction agreements, neither Congress nor DHS can have full visibility into the use of this authority.