Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of a report examining sole-source contracts awarded and administered by the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). Sole-source contract awards, or other procurement actions made without full and open competition, create a risk that taxpayer funds will be spent on contracts that are wasteful, inefficient, subject to misuse, or otherwise not well designed to serve the needs of the Department. However, agencies are authorized to exempt certain procurements from competition by justifying the exemption and obtaining appropriate approvals.
The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that the USMS was unable to produce documentation of the justifications for 14 of the 38 sole-source contract awards selected for testing during the audit. As a result, the USMS could not demonstrate that those contracts were justified and approved as required.
During the audit, the USMS Office of Procurement developed an internal audit plan in compliance with USMS policy, but the plan did not cover the intergovernmental agreements (IGA) the agency uses to obtain detention services from state, local, and tribal governments. Like sole-source contracts, IGAs are not subject to full and open competition and expose the USMS to many of the same risks. However, the OIG determined that the USMS’s IGAs receive significantly less oversight and review.
In a prior investigative procedural reform recommendation, the OIG recommended that the USMS ensure that its contractors informed their workers of their whistleblower rights and remedies. During this audit, the OIG identified indications that recent USMS corrective actions have improved communication to contractors, subcontractors, and grantees about whistleblower rights and remedies. Nevertheless, the USMS must take further steps to ensure that it continues to implement any new or updated DOJ policies regarding whistleblower protection.
Today’s report made three recommendations to assist the USMS in improving its sole-source contract awards. The USMS agreed with all of the recommendations.