It may become tempting for protocol and attentiveness to detail to take a backseat in the face of crises; however, this puts government agencies at more of a risk from procedural error and fraudulent infiltration. To combat this, the Department of Defense released a report on best practices and lessons learned for contracting officials in the pandemic environment.
Below, we have summarized key takeaways from the report:
Communication and Coordination
- Maintain communication between contracting personnel and contractors.
- Communicate with FEMA officials to ensure that FEMA’s requirements are being met and that FEMA officials are aware of the DoD’s ongoing response efforts.
- Communicate and coordinate throughout all stages of the process.
- Ensure that contracting personnel are keeping documentation of important decisions in the contract files.
- The methodology and results of contractor oversight through observations and testing and any remedial and corrective actions taken.
Consistency in Contracting Process
- Ensure that contracts and task orders are accurate and complete when awarded to the contractor.
- Ensure that contractor quality control plans meet the minimum level of detail required by agency policy.
- Instruct the contracting personnel to comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and establish a method of validating contractor invoices before authorizing payment.
Staffing and Training
- Ensure the use of long-term Government employees for program management and key technical positions that exercise oversight over contract employees.
- Ensure that sufficient staff are available and trained on requirements in the contract, the documentation required to support payment of contractor invoices, and the performance of quality assurance activities.
- Establish and ensure, to the maximum extent possible, proper segregation of duties.
Undefinitized Contract Actions
- Establish and manage a definitization schedule and continually coordinate the schedule with contractors;
- Hold contractors accountable for not providing qualifying proposals in accordance with regulations
- Manage the allowable profit based on whether the Government or contractor bears the risks associated with the UCA;
- Definitize UCA awards as soon as is practical to do so.
Potential Procurement Fraud Schemes
- Phantom vendors (creating a fictitious entity to create false invoices), providing counterfeit or substituted materials other than those identified in the contract.
- Conflicts of interest between Government and contractor personnel.
- Bribes and kickbacks.
- Double or falsified invoices presented for payment.
- Anti-competition agreements between vendors.
Tips to Avoid Potential Fraudulent Activity
- Verify the identity of companies and individuals that offer assistance.
- Check past performance of companies through the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System.
- Review the articles of incorporation.
- Search for company addresses to determine whether addresses are residential.