Vendor performance is one of the "unexpected areas of concern" highlighted by the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman in its annual report, released earlier this week.
Ombudsman Frank Brunetta says suppliers have questioned why the federal government continues to do business with "underperforming" vendors with poor reputations within the supplier community.
Likewise, he says, government officials have voiced frustrations after undertaking lengthy procurement processes only to be forced to accept a bid from a known substandard supplier.
In the annual report, Mr. Brunetta says that while some departments have recognized this problem and introduced vendor performance policies, such solutions have not been implemented across all government agencies and departments.
On a similar note, the ombudsman says both suppliers and government officials are concerned about the use of disparate procurement documents and processes across the government and, in some cases, even within the same department. These include different requirements to procure similar goods and services, variable evaluation criteria for comparable solicitations and the unpredictability of decisions over when a contract is competitively tendered versus being sole-sourced.
This is deterring some small and medium-sized businesses from bidding on government work, Mr. Brunetta says.
"The level of effort required to adjust to the different departmental approaches for supplying virtually the same service is costly, time-consuming and often not worth the effort."
On the government side, officials say there are many potential benefits and savings that could be derived from greater standardization of key procurement documents and tools.
The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman became operational in 2008 and reviews complaints around contracts valued at less than $25,000 for goods and less than $100,000 for services. It can also review any complaint with respect to the administration of a contract, regardless of dollar value.