Air Force and Interior Can Benefit from Additional Guidance When Deciding Whether to Lease or Purchase Equipment

February 7, 2012

Contracting officials from Air Force and Interior generally did not perform lease versus purchase analyses for selected contracts. Based on contract file reviews and discussions with contracting officials, we found that analyses were not performed and that contracting officials had not considered the alternative acquisition method for 24 of the 32 selected contracts. For the 8 contracts with lease versus purchase analyses, 5 were documented in the contract files and 3 were performed but were not documented, according to contracting officials. In most cases, contract files did not contain basic information to make lease or purchase decisions, such as the length of time the equipment would be used. Even files containing documentation of analyses generally did not address the full range of criteria specified in the FAR. For example, the analyses typically lacked a discussion of the financial and operating advantages of alternate approaches that would help contracting officials determine the appropriate acquisition method. Contracting officials noted that their decision to lease or purchase equipment often depends on the nature of the requirement, such as a short-term need for equipment, based on documents or other correspondence from the requester. Further, these officials generally stated that while they are familiar with the FAR guidance, they typically do not know how or when to perform the analyses and are not provided training on how to do so.

GSA officials said they are able to assist agencies in making lease versus purchase decisions, as discussed in the FAR, but could not identify any case when a federal agency had requested this assistance and do not have current information on whom agencies can contact at GSA. Air Force and Interior contracting officials stated they had not sought this assistance and more than half were unaware that GSA could provide such assistance. The two GSA offices listed in the FAR as the offices from which agencies can request assistance in making lease versus purchase decisions no longer exist. 

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