By Julia Coon
The General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Contracting Officers have a great deal of responsibilities. They manage thousands of schedules that generated more than $34.8 billion during the 2013 fiscal year. Their job is to ensure the government is getting the best value. It is important that these individuals are receiving adequate training in order to be successful.
On June 26, 2015, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report based on their findings regarding FAS’s method of training and warranting Contracting Officers. The report mentions five areas of improvement for FAS in order to achieve GSA’s mission “to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people.”
Contracting Officers are receiving training but it is not the specialized training needed to administer and award schedule contracts. Lack of training in this area could hinder the GSA in delivering the best value to the government. There is specific training offered to the customers purchasing off the schedules but this does not help when there is a potential for improperly awarded or administered contracts.
In order to maintain their warrants, Contracting Officers must take multiple courses. The OIG found that Contracting Officers are taking courses that are non-acquisition related to fulfill this requirement. There is also a disconnect between the Central Office and the regions in what constitutes applicable training. Some regions grant Continuous Learning Points (CLPs) only for acquisition-related training while others grants CLPs for non-acquisition-related training.
The training that Contracting Officers have to choose from is limited. Contracting Officers would prefer in-classroom training led by an instructor but have been hindered by the limited offerings and reduced travel budgets. The OIG report shows that almost 60% of the training budget was not utilized last fiscal year.
Another issue is that the training coordinators face limitations in the Federal Acquisition Institute Training Application System (FAITAS). The training coordinator’s job is to ensure that Contracting Officers are meeting their requirements however; the coordinators do not have access to FAITAS reports that track the completion of the requirements. With limited access to reports, Contracting Officers could be awarding and administering contracts without fulfilling their requirements.
Lastly, the Master Warrant List used to track warrant and FAC-C information does not contain accurate information. Bureau Certification Managers and training coordinators are responsible for reviewing the list on a quarterly basis. Some of the errors found in the OIG report include missing records, duplicate records, and incorrect warrant status.
The findings in the OIG report are perfect reasons for contractors to be adequately trained as well. Contractors should not rely solely on their Contracting Officer to ensure their schedule contract is awarded and administered properly. In order to stay on top of you Contracting Officer, Centre offers a GSA Boot Camp training course as well as a variety of other Government courses. You can learn more about the training Centre offers by going to centrelawgroup.com and clicking on the training tab.