NSIAD-88-35, Procurement: Assessment of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy



In 1974, the Congress responded to increasing criticism about the complexity and poor management of federal procurement by creating the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). OFPP was to provide executive branch procurement policy leadership, and to coordinate federal procurement policies and practices. OPPP was initially authorized for 5 years and was subsequently reauthorized in 1979 and 1983. OFPP’S most recent authorization expired on September 30, 1987. OFPP is currently operating under the continuing resolution. GA0 initiated a general management review of OFPP as part of its continuing effort to assess operations at seIected central management agencies.


OFPP, located within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), was created to simplify and bring consistency to federal procurement. Under its current authorizing legislation, OPPP was given two basic authorities: to provide overall procurement policy direction and leadership in developing executive branch procurement systems and to prescribe government-wide procurement policy. The authority is further defined in legislation in terms of specific OPPP functions. The authority to prescribe government-wide procurement regulations is shared among the General Services Administration (GSA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Defense (DOD). OPPP’S authority to issue regulations is limited to situations where GSA, NASA, and DOD are unable to agree on or fail to issue government-wide regulations on time.

To gather a broad range of views from the procurement community about OFIJP’S past performance and future role, GAO obtained information from a questionnaire completed by procurement executives at 24 government agencies which collectively purchased over 96 percent of the government’s goods and services in fiscal year 1986, and by 52 members of 8 private industry associations who had extensive experience in government procurement. GAO also interviewed key OFPP and OMB officials, former OPPP Administrators, and other procurement experts from the military services. In addition, GAO collected and analyzed correspondence and documents from OFPP.


GAO found that the procurement community believes that a central policy office is needed and that OFPP is the organization to perform this function. However, since its inception in 1974, OFPP has not consistently attained and maintained the leadership role in setting the federal procurementpolicy initially envisioned. OFPP is perceived as more effective under an appointed administrator and, conversely less effective during lengthy periods under acting administrators. Prior to the appointment of the current administrator, the post was vacant for almost 2 years. Since the appointment of the current administrator, there are indications that OFPP has begun to exercise its authority more assertively.

(Results in Brief)