Recent Efforts to Address Associated Risks Can Be Further Enhanced

December 7, 2011

From fiscal years 2005 through 2010, civilian agency obligations on contracts for professional and management support services increased 44 percent, from $22 billion to $32 billion (in 2010 dollars), more than twice the rate of increase for other services. For the five agencies GAO reviewed—the Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, the United States Agency for International Development, and the National Science Foundation—more than half of the 230 statements of work for professional and management support service contracts requested services that closely support the performance of inherently governmental functions. Using these services can inappropriately influence government decisionmaking if proper oversight is not provided. The five agencies generally did not consider and mitigate risks of acquiring professional and management support services prior to awarding the 12 contracts GAO reviewed. The Federal Acquisition Regulation requires agencies to provide enhanced management oversight for contracts that closely support inherently governmental functions. For the 12 contracts, few of the officials said they considered whether contracted services included such functions. In some cases, officials said they later became concerned that contractors might perform inherently governmental functions or that government employees lacked expertise to oversee contracted work, and took steps to mitigate risks. Guidance from four of the five agencies did not include processes to identify risks or ensure enhanced management oversight when contractors perform such services. 

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