14-09, Audit of Blanket Purchase Agreements for Professional Consulting Services

Audit of Blanket Purchase Agreements for Professional Consulting Services

After auditing a total of 12 task orders issued under four consulting BPAs, the Office of Inspector General found shocking waste of taxpayer funds, lax oversight, unauthorized contractual commitments and widespread noncompliance with rules, regulations and sound contracting practices. Among the highlights:

  • The Corporation wasted taxpayer funds on deliverables that were not used, were canceled after incurring substantial costs, or were never received.
  • CNCS spent nearly $900,000 (of the $3 million in our sample) on five projects that it never used.
  • Program officials exceeded their authority and violated Federal procurement requirements with impunity by directing consultants to deviate from contract terms.
  • Procurement officers charged with sole legal authority to enter into, modify and terminate government contracts were kept in the dark.
  • Instead of terminating a longitudinal study and returning the unspent funds to the Treasury, program officials diverted the funds to unrelated case studies.
  • The Corporation abdicated its fiduciary responsibility regarding payments to consultants and other contract monitoring.
  • Program officers relied excessively on the trustworthiness of contractors, including approving $2,427,463 in invoices for labor without obtaining timesheets.
  • Procurement officers did not adequately review contractor proposals to protect the government's interests.
  • Contracting officers did not review the qualifications, eligibility or cost proposals of subcontractors.
  • Chronic documentation problems interfere with transparency and accountability of contractual actions.
  • Contract files lacked basic documents plans for acquisition, monitoring and subcontracting.
  • The procurement files did not document the reasons for critical decisions or identify the persons responsible for unauthorized changes to the scope and nature of consulting assignments.

Poor documentation practices and turnover at the staff and executive levels have created substantial gaps in the Corporation's institutional memory regarding consulting engagements.

The Corporation's operational units (grant programs and functional components, such as External Affairs) engage consultants under existing BPAs with little or no supervision at the enterprise level. Many of the problems that OIG detected here are longstanding and have not received sufficient attention or oversight. There has been no meaningful accountability for continuing waste and mismanagement of consulting services procured through BPAs.