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Saturday, January 28, 2023

OIG: DHS Did Not Sufficiently Identify, Review and Validate Contract Award Information

The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2019 required DHS to submit a report to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) listing all grants and contracts awarded by any means other than full and open competition (OTFOC) during fiscal years 2018 and 2019. 

Based on its review of 45 judgmentally sampled awards (15 non-competitive grants and 30 OTFOC contracts), OIG found DHS complied with applicable laws and regulations. 

The watchdog said DHS officials supported award decisions with the required planning, market research, justification, and approval documentation to ensure effective stewardship of taxpayer dollars. 

OIG identified no systemic instances of noncompliance. However, it determined the Department’s report was inaccurate because DHS did not sufficiently identify, review, and validate the award information. Rather, DHS officials included competitive contract awards and other contract awards not subject to competition requirements in the report. In addition, the report included competitive grant awards and was missing non-competitive grant awards, because officials did not verify the award information with DHS financial assistance offices prior to finalizing the report. Although OIG worked with DHS officials to ensure it had an accurate population for our testing purposes, inaccurate data in the report could hinder the watchdog’s ability to assess the Department’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations in future reporting submissions.

OIG has consequently recommended that the DHS Chief Procurement Officer improve its written procedures to ensure only those contracts awarded through other than full and open competition are included in the required report. DHS concurred and said it will complete the action by February 26, 2021.

OIG also recommended that the DHS Chief Financial Officer, with advice from the Office of General Counsel, develop written procedures for generating the required report to sufficiently identify, review, and validate noncompetitive grant award information. Again DHS concurred and said work to meet the recommendation will include, but will not necessarily be limited to:  sufficiently identifying, reviewing, and validating all less than full and open grant awards;  addressing types of grant awards to be included in the report as well as types of grant awards that are not included; describing the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in generating the report; and including procedures for identifying, reviewing, and validating grant award information. 

In addition, the DHS Office of the Chief Financial Officer’s Financial Assistance Policy and Oversight Division will seek advice from the DHS Office of General Counsel to identify non-competitive grant awards that should be included in the OTFOC report. The identification of reportable awards will include a review of program statutory authorities; determination of whether to include limited competitions; and consideration of revised guidance. The estimated completion date for this action is June 30, 2021. 

Read the full report at OIG

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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