Some Deficiencies Exist in DOT’s Enforcement and Oversight of Certification and Warrant Authority for Its Contracting Officers
In fiscal year 2014, the Department of Transportation (DOT) obligated $2 billion on contracts. DOT’s contracting officers (CO) are responsible for awarding and managing a significant portfolio of contracts. To help ensure these contracts meet Federal and departmental requirements, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) requires that COs be certified at the appropriate level to correspond with the dollar value of contracts they are authorized to award and administer. OFPP also directed each agency’s chief acquisition officer to establish agency-specific certification and warrant requirements.
Of the 63 COs we reviewed, 15 (24 percent) did not fully comply with these requirements. For example, 10 COs had expired certifications who approved over 3,000 contract actions and obligated over $731 million. While the Department’s acquisition workforce policies align with Federal requirements, a few policy areas are unclear or do not reflect current practices. Additionally, some Operating Administrations do not always enforce these policies, as DOT lacks a clear policy for enforcing their compliance with CO certification and warrant requirements. Failure to enforce certification and warrant requirements creates risks that DOT’s complex, high-dollar acquisitions may be awarded and administered by COs who lack appropriate training and experience. DOT concurred with the seven recommendations we made to improve oversight of CO warrant and certification practices.