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Theresa Hull: DoD OIG Report Highlights Contracting-Related Best Practices to Consider During Pandemic

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Theresa Hull
Theresa Hull

Theresa Hull, assistant inspector general for audit acquisition, contracting and sustainment at the Department of Defense’s office of IG, said a special report released by OIG highlights best practices and lessons learned from past emergency response efforts that DoD contracting officials should consider during the COVID-19 pandemic, Federal News Network reported Thursday.

“Our reports go back to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but also include the more recent hurricanes, Florence and Irma, and we highlighted four areas that the contracting community should be aware of: Communication and coordination; documentation, consistency in the contracting process, and staffing and training,” Hull said in an interview on the network’s On DoD.

Those lessons learned and best practices were determined after OIG analyzed 36 audits related to contracting during past disaster relief response initiatives.

Undefinitized contract actions – awards that allow contractors to start delivering goods and services before establishing the contract’s full terms and conditions – have been used for 129 contracts worth approximately $826M combined. Hull said acquisition officials should practise caution when using UCAs.

“While UCAs can save contracting officers time on the front end, they spend a lot more time and effort coming to an agreement on price later,” Hull said. “What we’ve seen in our work surrounding UCAs is that contracting officers are having to issue the contract and then continuously and constantly monitor the contract and work with the contractor to provide the needed information to ultimately negotiate and definitize the contract, and that can take months, sometimes even years."