EPA Can’t Explain Why It Paid Contractors $545,000 In Bonuses


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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) isn’t doing a very good job managing the contractors it uses to conduct employee background checks, according to a government watchdog report which found the agency had handed $545,000 in incentives without adequate support documents.

“By not maintaining contract documentation, the EPA does not have reasonable assurance that work is progressing according to the contract, or that [Office of Personnel Management] billings are correct,” the EPA’s inspector general finds.

“The agency overpaid approximately $6,000 over the last 2½ years, and awarded over $545,000 in incentive fees without adequate support,” the IG reports Monday.

EPA spends millions of dollars on background investigations every year. Background checks are conducted by OPM, and EPA’s Personnel Security Branch hires outside contractors to assist with the processing of background checks. The IG’s report notes, however, that EPA has no way to “ensure proper management and oversight of OPM background investigation services and related billings.”

That means contractors eligible for bonuses, or incentive fees for meeting certain goals are getting extra taxpayer dollars from EPA — despite the fact the agency doesn’t have the documentation to justify these incentives.

One EPA contract with a maximum value of $13.4 million got incentive fees for five years while under contract even though the “agency did not have adequate documentation or support for these actions,” the IG reported.

“The [Contracting Officer’s Representative] does not maintain documentation to support her annual [Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan] reviews,” the IG notes. “The COR’s contract file only contains evidence of one recommendation to the CO to award the full incentive fee due to the contractor meeting performance standards. However, the COR does not maintain supporting documentation to establish a basis for the rating assigned.”

“She also performs select testing of the documentation related to QASP performance standards,” the IG finds. “However, she did not maintain documentation of this testing. By not performing the required analysis and documenting the results, the EPA does not have reasonable assurance that the contractor has met QASP standards, and the EPA awarded over $545,000 in incentive fees.”

Update: The IG said EPA responded to their report in the following way:

The EPA agreed with all 14 recommendations and provided expected completion dates for all corrective actions. All of the agency’s proposed corrective actions and planned completion dates meet the intent of the 14 recommendations. No final response from the agency is required because all recommendations are resolved.

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