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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District Needs to Improve Competitive Procedures for Cooperative Agreements for Alaska Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans

DODIG-2015-174

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Objective

Our objective was to determine whether DoD properly awarded contracts and cooperative agreements on a sole-source basis for the development and implementation of integrated natural resources management plans (INRMPs) on DoD installations in Alaska.

Findings

Grants officers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)–Alaska District did not properly award or effectively use cooperative agreements issued on a sole-source basis, valued at about $18 million, for the development and implementation of INRMPs at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson (JBER) and Fort Wainwright, Alaska. This occurred because grants officers:

  • did not follow the DoD Grants and Agreements Regulations to maximize competition;
  • issued the cooperative agreements or task orders as directed by JBER and Fort Wainwright personnel rather than perform sufficient market research to determine recipients; and
  • did not have clear guidance from the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, (Installations and Environment), on DoD’s implementation of the Sikes Act requirements.

As a result, USACE did not obtain the benefits of competition and may have paid more than necessary. Additionally, they awarded cooperative agreements that did not meet DoD’s interpretation of the Sikes Act requirement to give priority to Alaskan State agencies before they obtain support by other means.

In addition, personnel from the Fort Wainwright Mission Installation Contracting Command properly awarded three contracts for INRMP support, with a value (including options) of $32.8 million, by justifying the use of other than full and open competition. Fort Wainwright contracting personnel generally complied with Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements related to noncompetitive contracting.

Recommendations

We recommend that the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) develop guidance to require competition for task orders when multiple cooperative agreements exist and to issue guidance clarifying that priority should be given to the respective State fish and wildlife agencies.

We recommend the Garrison Commander, JBER, and the Chief, Directorate of Public Works, Fort Wainwright, discontinue directing which universities or soil and water districts obtain cooperative agreements or associated task orders.

We recommend that the Contracting Division Chief, USACE Alaska District develop procedures and implement controls related to the award and management of cooperative agreements to improve competition. In addition, we recommend that the Contracting Division Chief require training for grants officers on proper award and management of cooperative agreements.

Management Comments and Our Response

We did not receive comments to the draft report. We request that the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment); Commander, JBER; Chief, Directorate of Public Works, Fort Wainwright; and the Contracting Chief, USACE, Alaska District, provide comments to the final report.

This report is a result of Project No. D2015-D000CG-0128.000.