The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has failed in recent years to follow existing acquisition policies and procedures when it comes to managing the agency’s information technology contracts, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) internal watchdog said.

According to a recent report by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), FDA has fallen short on simple Federal acquisition regulations, like completely filling out a contract document.

“Our objective was to determine whether FDA administered contracts for the acquisition of IT in accordance with applicable Federal acquisition regulations and HHS acquisition regulations and policies,” the 28-page report says.

The watchdog reviewed five FDA orders paid to a contractor for IT hardware and equipment – totaling $23.6 million – during fiscal years 2018 through 2020. The OIG found that the agency’s contracting officers failed on five fronts:

  • They did not properly designate a contracting officer’s representative (COR), or did not complete all required duties for contracts for which there was no designated COR;
  • They did not complete required contractor performance evaluations;
  • They did not properly document all key contracting decisions or activities and obtain all required signatures on key documents;
  • They did not include the required acquisition strategy statement in the orders’ acquisition plans; and
  • Finally, the FDA did not fully comply with the HHS Competition Advocacy Directive for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

“These conditions occurred because FDA did not always follow existing FDA acquisition and procurement policies and procedures, including ensuring the completeness of contract documents, and work with HHS to meet its obligation to comply with an HHS directive,” the report says.

It continues, “As a result, some of the areas of noncompliance with FDA acquisition and procurement policies could lead to repeat nonconformity with Federal acquisition and procurement requirements in the administration and management of orders and missed opportunities to further improve competition for IT procurements within FDA.”

The OIG offered three recommendations to ensure FDA is consistently using existing acquisition policies and keeping up with required reports. FDA officials concurred with those recommendations.

Read More About
More Topics
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.