Report 2016-124 All Recommendation Responses

Report 2016-124: Department of General Services and California Department of Technology: Neither Entity Has Provided the Oversight Necessary to Ensure That State Agencies Consistently Use the Competitive Bidding Process (Release Date: June 2017)

Recommendation #1 To: General Services, Department of

To improve its oversight of the State's noncompetitive contracts, General Services should immediately ensure that agencies enter accurate and complete contract information into FI$Cal. For example, General Services should regularly select contracts from agencies and verify the accuracy and completeness of the related entries in FI$Cal.

6-Month Agency Response

General Services (DGS) is now monitoring FI$Cal SCPRS reporting to ensure that agencies are entering accurate and complete contract information into FI$Cal. In June 2017, the Purchasing Authority Unit (PAU) began reviewing a sample of contracts from an initial six state agencies to verify the accuracy and completeness of the related entries in FI$Cal. The PAU has since issued 11 Purchasing Authority Approval Letters. They are also continuing to review samples of contracts, to verify the accuracy and completeness of FI$Cal SCPRS entries, for scheduled state agencies on an ongoing basis as part of the Purchasing Authority Accreditation process. In addition, as of September 2017, DGS' Office of Audit Services, in collaboration with the PAU, began reviewing samples of agencies' contract files and FI$Cal SCPRS data to ensure accurate and complete data is reported.

  • Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Fully Implemented


60-Day Agency Response

DGS continues to monitor FI$Cal SCPRS reporting to ensure that agencies are entering accurate and complete contract information into FI$Cal. In June 2017, the Purchasing Authority Unit (PAU) began reviewing a sample of contracts from an initial six state agencies to verify the accuracy and completeness of the related entries in FI$Cal. The PAU will continue to review samples of contracts to verify the accuracy and completeness of FI$Cal SCPRS entries from additional state agencies on an ongoing basis as part of the Purchasing Authority Accreditation process. Further, the PAU has scheduled additional training sessions with DGS' Office of Audit Services in collaboration for reviewing samples of agencies' contract files and FI$Cal SCPRS data to ensure accurate and complete data is reported.

  • Estimated Completion Date: August 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #2 To: General Services, Department of

To improve its oversight of the State's noncompetitive contracts, General Services should, within 90 days, modify FI$Cal to include a standard amendment indicator to identify an item as an amendment, including the amendment number with respect to the contract, that agencies can use regardless of whether they make their procurements using FI$Cal. This indicator should ensure that General Services can reliably analyze and report on the number, values, and types of exemptions from competitive bidding of the State's contract amendments. General Services should notify all agencies of this change and ensure that the notification provides appropriate guidance for the use of the amendment indicator.

1-Year Agency Response

Per the DGS 6-month response, as of August 25, 2017, DGS implemented a new "Amendment Indicator" in FI$Cal. Additionally, DGS has updated the State Contracting Manual (Volume F) to provide users with detailed explanation regarding how to use the Amendment Indicator in FI$Cal and how to report Amendments in FI$Cal SCPRS. On May 23, 2018, DGS notified all agencies of the enhanced guidelines through Broadcast Bulletin F-06-18.

  • Completion Date: May 2018
  • Response Date: June 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


6-Month Agency Response

On August 25, 2017, FI$Cal implemented, within the 90 days, the new "Amendment Indicator." Now, when a department makes a change to any procurement transaction, they will need to select and record a change order reason from a predetermined list. General Services (DGS) is currently completing the training and communication materials, at which point, DGS will notify all agencies and provide additional guidance on the use of the indicator.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

In July 2017, FI$Cal completed the requested application design updates and created an amendment indicator. DGS is finalizing and testing the resulting FI$Cal application changes in functionality. Once testing is complete and the training and communication materials are developed, DGS will notify all agencies and provide guidance on the use of the indicator.

  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #3 To: General Services, Department of

To improve its oversight of the State's noncompetitive contracts, General Services should, within 90 days, create plans for regularly performing statewide analyses to identify potential abuse or overuse of noncompetitive contracts. These analyses should include, but not be limited to, calculating the proportional value and number of the State's competitive and noncompetitive contracts and amendments, examining trends in agencies' use of noncompetitive contracts and amendments, and identifying unusual patterns among vendors receiving state contracts through noncompetitive means.

1-Year Agency Response

During the development of a plan and procedures to perform regular analyses of statewide non-competitive contracting under DGS' oversight, DGS identified a better method of identifying potential abuse or overuse of non-competitive contracts. DGS determined that it was not feasible to identify potential abuse or overuse of the non-competitively bid (NCB) contract acquisition method by the exclusive review of statewide data showing the quantity of non-competitive contracts. Non-competitive contracting is a valid method of contracting if done correctly; therefore, the statewide quantity of non-competitive contracting is not evidence of abuse. Instead, DGS implemented a process within the Purchasing Authority accreditation process to perform a review of individual state agencies use of the NCB contract acquisition method. This allows DGS to use state agency specific data to identify patterns and follow-up with individual state agencies by reviewing a sample of NCB contract/procurement files to identify potential abuse or overuse of the NCB contract acquisition method. This will assist DGS to perform its oversight function, including determining whether process changes should be undertaken and/or additional training and guidance should be provided to agencies.

  • Response Date: June 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Will Not Implement

We stand by our recommendation that General Services should create plans for regularly performing statewide analysis to identify potential abuse or overuse of noncompetitive contracts. We believe such analyses should include all types of noncompetitive contracts, which includes more than just noncompetitively bid contract justifications. These analyses would enable General Services to better understand the scale of the State's noncompetitive contracts and to identify situations in which agencies might be abusing noncompetitive contracts by favoring certain vendors.


6-Month Agency Response

During the development of a plan and procedures to perform regular analyses of statewide non-competitive contracting under DGS' oversight, DGS identified a better method of identifying potential abuse or overuse of non-competitive contracts. DGS determined that it was not feasible to identify potential abuse or overuse of the non-competitively bid (NCB) contract acquisition method by the exclusive review of statewide data showing the quantity of non-competitive contracts. Non-competitive contracting is a valid method of contracting if done correctly; therefore, the statewide quantity of non-competitive contracting is not evidence of abuse. Instead, DGS implemented a process within the Purchasing Authority accreditation process to perform a review of individual state agencies use of the NCB contract acquisition method. This allows DGS to use state agency specific data to identify patterns and follow-up with individual state agencies by reviewing a sample of NCB contract/procurement files to identify potential abuse or overuse of the NCB contract acquisition method. This will assist DGS to perform its oversight function, including determining whether process changes should be undertaken and/or additional training and guidance should be provided to agencies.

  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Will Not Implement

We stand by our recommendation that General Services should create plans for regularly performing statewide analysis to identify potential abuse or overuse of noncompetitive contracts. We believe such analyses should include all types of noncompetitive contracts, which includes more than just noncompetitively bid contract justifications (noncompetitive requests). These analyses enable General Services to better understand the scale of the State's noncompetitive contracts and to identify situations in which agencies might be abusing noncompetitive contracts by favoring certain vendors.


60-Day Agency Response

DGS is on track to meet the 90 day completion date for the development of a plan to perform regular statewide analyses of noncompetitive contracts under DGS' oversight for potential abuse or overuse of noncompetitive contracts. DGS is currently developing procedures to perform the recommended analysis.

  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #4 To: Technology, California Department of

To improve its oversight of the State's noncompetitive contracting related to reportable IT projects and telecommunication procurements, Technology should create plans within 90 days for regularly performing statewide analyses of FI$Cal data to identify potential abuse or overuse of noncompetitive contracts. These analyses should include, but not be limited to, calculating the proportional value and number of the State's competitive and noncompetitive contracts and amendments, examining trends in agencies' use of noncompetitive contracts and amendments, and identifying unusual patterns among vendors receiving state contracts through noncompetitive means.

6-Month Agency Response

CDT is working with the California Department of General Services staff to determine the method, approach, and process to extract data stored in the FI$Cal system. This information will be used to provide statewide analyses to detect potential abuse or overuse of noncompetitive contracts. Based on this, CDT's Statewide Technology Procurement (STP) is updating Desktop Work Procedures to provide staff with additional direction to run this report, analyze and identify unusual patterns among vendors and trend in agencies' use of noncompetitive contracts and amendments.

CDT modified the SharePoint database in September 2017, to link a specific Non-Competitive Bid (NCB) to the contract or contract amendment to which it relates. This allows CDT to identify the number of contracts and contract amendments a department acquired or amended via the noncompetitive process, the related dollar values, and investigate the department's usage for patterns and possible abuse of overuse.

  • Estimated Completion Date: January 2018
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

- CDT will be meeting next week with FI$Cal and DGS staff to determine the data is stored in the Fi$Cal system that will allow CDT to create plans which will ensure CDT staff perform consistent detailed statewide analyses of Fi$Cal or other system data to detect the potential abuse or overuse of noncompetitive contracts.

- CDT has begun to modify its SharePoint database to interface a specific NCB to the contract or contract amendment to which it relates. This will allow CDT to identify the number of contracts and contract amendments a department acquired or amended via the noncompetitive process, the related dollar values, and investigate the department's usage for patterns and possible abuse of overuse.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation for Legislative Action

To promote accountability for and transparency of the State's noncompetitive request process, the Legislature should require General Services and Technology to submit an annual report of all noncompetitive requests they approve with values over $1 million. This report should include performance metrics such as the percentage of procurement dollars approved as noncompetitive requests. This could be a published annual report or the two agencies could provide this information publicly on their websites. In addition, the Legislature could require agencies to publicly justify their noncompetitive requests in Legislative hearings when it sees fit. For each noncompetitive request listed in the annual report, General Services and Technology should include—at a minimum—the following information:
- Contracting agency.
- Original contract value (if applicable).
- Noncompetitive request value.
- Numbers and values of noncompetitive amendments (if applicable).
- Mechanisms applied to enforce compliance.

Description of Legislative Action

Assembly Bill 2157 (Obernolte) would require the Department of General Services, until January 1, 2023, to submit an annual report to the Legislature, that shall also be made available to the public, of all noncompetitive bid contract requests it approved during the preceding year with a value over $1 million and the mechanisms the department employed during the previous year to enforce compliance with noncompetitive procurement laws and policies.

  • Legislative Action Current As-of: June 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Legislation Introduced


Recommendation #6 To: General Services, Department of

To clarify the allowable reasons for using noncompetitive requests and to ensure that agencies understand these reasons, General Services should, within 180 days, enhance the criteria in the State Contracting Manual to include examples of appropriate and inappropriate circumstances related to justifying a noncompetitive request. In particular, it should clearly reiterate that poor contract planning is not a sufficient justification for a noncompetitive request for all acquisition types. Further, General Services should develop specific criteria for what constitutes an appropriate noncompetitive request for non-IT services acquisitions. General Services should notify all agencies of the clarifications in the State Contracting Manual and should reiterate that all noncompetitive requests must meet the enhanced criteria.

6-Month Agency Response

General Services (DGS) has reviewed the State Contracting Manual (SCM) Volumes and drafted updates providing enhanced guidance regarding requests submitted through the Non-Competitive Bid (NCB) Contract Justification request form. DGS included criteria for what constitutes an appropriate non-competitive request and examples of appropriate and inappropriate circumstances of justifying a non-competitive request. Once the updates to the SCM Volumes are finalized, DGS will notify all agencies of the enhanced guidelines.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

DGS is currently reviewing the State Contracting Manual (SCM) Volumes 1, 2, 3 and SCM FI$Cal and developing updates to provide enhanced guidance regarding requests submitted through the Non-Competitive Bid Contract Justification request form. Specifically, DGS will include criteria for what constitutes an appropriate non-competitive request and examples of appropriate and inappropriate circumstances of justifying a non-competitive request, including non-IT service acquisitions. Once the updates to the SCM Volumes are finalized, DGS will notify all agencies of the enhanced guidelines.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #7 To: General Services, Department of

To ensure that the State receives the best value for its contracts, General Services should immediately begin performing the following:
For contracts that are exempt from competition by policy or statute, including noncompetitive requests for contracts, General Services should require agencies to justify that the price is fair and reasonable. This should include a current price analysis pointing to competitive pricing from another contract, such as a statewide agreement, or a comparison of rates to other available vendors, or another valid price analysis with objective evidence.

6-Month Agency Response

General Services (DGS) has assessed the non-competitive contracting methods where additional justification of a fair and reasonable price would be most effective and drafted updates to the State Contracting Manual (SCM) Volumes. In addition, DGS has drafted updates to the Non-Competitive Bid (NCB) Contract Justification request form to ensure fair and reasonable pricing is justified. DGS continues to require agencies to submit current cost justifications from available vendors when feasible and has reminded procurement professionals of this at the Purchasing Authority Round Table meeting held on August 1, 2017 and DGS' Procurement Division State Agency Customer Forum held on August 30, 2017. Once the updates to the SCM Volumes and NCB form are finalized, DGS will notify all agencies of the enhanced guidelines.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

DGS is currently assessing non-competitive contracting methods where additional justification of a fair and reasonable price would be most effective and will update SCM policy as applicable once the assessment is complete. DGS continues to require agencies to submit current cost justifications from available vendors when feasible and will remind procurement professionals of this in upcoming customer forums such as the Purchasing Authority Round Table scheduled for August 1, 2017 and DGS' Procurement Division State Agency Customer Forum scheduled for August 30, 2017.

  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #8 To: General Services, Department of

To ensure that the State receives the best value for its contracts, for noncompetitive requests, General Services should immediately require agencies to quantify and substantiate their cost savings or averted costs.

1-Year Agency Response

Updates to the Non-Competitively Bid (NCB) Contract Justification request form and State Contracting Manual (SCM) Volumes to provide guidance regarding quantifying and substantiating agencies' cost savings or averted costs are finalized and have been approved. On June 7, 2018, DGS notified all agencies of the enhanced guidelines through Broadcast Bulletin P-07-18.

  • Completion Date: June 2018
  • Response Date: June 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


6-Month Agency Response

General Services (DGS) has drafted updates to the Non-Competitive Bid (NCB) Contract Justification request form to ensure that agencies are quantifying and substantiating their cost savings or averted costs. In addition, analysts continue to ask additional questions or seek additional documentation to ensure the necessary information to quantify and substantiate cost savings is included in the NCB file, when necessary. Once the updates to the NCB form are finalized, DGS will notify all agencies of the enhanced guidelines.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

DGS is revising the Non-Competitive Bid (NCB) Contract Justification request form to reiterate that agencies must, in addition to providing a description of the cost savings/cost avoided, quantify and substantiate their cost savings or averted costs when feasible. In addition, while DGS is revising the NCB request form, analysts are asking additional questions or seeking additional documentation to ensure the necessary information to quantify and substantiate cost savings is included in the NCB file, when necessary.

  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #9 To: General Services, Department of

To ensure that it holds agencies accountable for implementing the corrective action plans that they submit with noncompetitive requests, General Services should immediately begin tracking all outstanding plans and following up to ensure that agencies complete them. For example, General Services should require an agency to include key dates in its corrective action plan that the agency plans to meet to conduct a competitive procurement and report its progress to General Services. Further, General Services should inquire about the steps that agencies have taken before the contract expiration dates in their most recent noncompetitive requests.

1-Year Agency Response

DGS is fully utilizing the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) spreadsheet to track and review data submitted in agencies' CAPs. DGS is also following-up with agencies' key action dates that come due, to ensure agencies are on task to complete items identified in their plan by way of emailing notifications to departments.

  • Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: June 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Fully Implemented


6-Month Agency Response

General Services (DGS) continues to track and review the data submitted in agencies' corrective action plans (CAP). DGS is also following-up with agencies' key action dates that come due, to ensure agencies are on task to complete items identified in their plan. A corrective action plan spreadsheet was created to track the activities associated with a particular CAP in place. In addition, DGS is currently finalizing the requirements for a new Non-Competitive Bid (NCB) system that allows agencies to electronically submit NCB requests via DGS' portal. One of the components of the system is electronic tracking of agencies' CAPs. The system will send push notifications to agencies when key action dates are coming due. DGS will start piloting the new system in December 2017 and will continue to implement the system.

  • Estimated Completion Date: March 2018
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

DGS continues to track and review the data submitted in agencies' corrective action plans. In addition, DGS is also following-up with agencies' key action dates that come due, to ensure agencies are on task to complete items identified in their plan.

  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #10 To: General Services, Department of

To ensure that it consistently and appropriately responds when agencies fail to justify their noncompetitive requests, plan sufficiently to avoid the noncompetitive process, or follow their corrective action plans, General Services should create an escalation process within 90 days that outlines the order and severity of enforcement mechanisms it will use. The mechanisms it applies should escalate according to the number or severity of offenses it identifies. For example, General Services could begin by sending a warning letter to high-level agency executives, followed by reducing or revoking an agency's purchasing threshold for specific types of acquisitions—for example, IT services—and finally by reducing or revoking an agency's purchasing threshold for all acquisition types in scenarios of repetitive noncompliance.

6-Month Agency Response

General Services (DGS) continues to be on track with developing an escalation process that outlines the order and severity of enforcement mechanisms to be used when agencies fail to justify their non-competitive requests, plan sufficiently to avoid the non-competitive process (NCB), or follow their corrective action plans. Another component of the new NCB system is identifying, documenting, and tracking the enforcement mechanisms used when an agency fails to respond to DGS. The escalation process includes, among many other things, notification to the director of the state agency, and if necessary, the agency secretary of that state agency. DGS will start piloting the new system in December 2017 and will continue to implement the escalation process.

  • Estimated Completion Date: March 2018
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

DGS is on track with developing an escalation process that outlines the order and severity of enforcement mechanisms to be used when agencies fail to justify their non-competitive requests, plan sufficiently to avoid the non-competitive process, or follow their corrective action plans. The escalation process will include, among other things, notification to the director of the state agency, and if necessary, the agency secretary of that state agency.

  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #11 To: Technology, California Department of

To ensure that the State receives the best value for its noncompetitive requests, Technology should immediately begin to require that agencies justify that the price is fair and reasonable. This should include a current price analysis pointing to competitive pricing from another contract, such as a statewide agreement, or a comparison of rates to other available vendors, or another valid price analysis with objective evidence. Further, Technology should require agencies to quantify and substantiate their cost savings or averted costs.

6-Month Agency Response

CDT is updating Desktop Work Procedures to provide staff with additional direction to ensure NCB best value has been documented by the requestor, validated by STP, and documented in the approval/denial memo. The approved Desktop Work procedures will be distributed to all STP staff on December 20, and discussed at the December 21, STP All Staff meeting

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

CDT is almost complete in updating its Desktop Work Procedures to provide staff with additional direction to ensure NCB best value has been documented by the requestor; validated by STP, and document in the approval/denial memo.

  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #12 To: Technology, California Department of

To ensure that it holds agencies accountable for implementing the corrective action plans that they submit with noncompetitive requests, Technology should immediately begin tracking all outstanding corrective action plans and following up to ensure that agencies complete them. For example, Technology should require that an agency include key dates in its corrective action plan that the agency plans to meet to conduct a competitive procurement and report its progress to Technology. Further, Technology should inquire about the steps that agencies have taken before the contract expiration dates in their most recent noncompetitive requests.

6-Month Agency Response

CDT is updating Desktop Work Procedures to provide staff with additional direction to track outstanding Correction Action Plans (CAPs) submitted by an Agency/state entity and inquire about expiring contracts before expiration date. The approved Desktop Work procedures will be distributed to all STP staff on December 20, and discussed at the December 21, STP All Staff meeting.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: December 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

CDT is almost complete in updating its Desktop Work Procedures to provide staff with additional direction to track outstanding CAPs submitted by an Agency/state entity and to inquire about expiring contracts before their expiration date.

  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #13 To: Technology, California Department of

To ensure that agencies do not repeatedly submit inappropriate noncompetitive requests after receiving a warning, Technology should track and follow up on instances in which it has issued a warning letter. Further, when appropriate, Technology should follow through with the consequences it includes in its warning letters.

6-Month Agency Response

CDT is updating Desktop Work Procedures to provide staff with additional direction to monitor warning letters and follow through with any necessary consequences contained in the respective warning letters. The approved Desktop Work procedures will be distributed to all STP staff on December 20, and discussed at the December 21, STP All Staff meeting.

  • Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: January 2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending

CDT has provided its revised procedures but has not provided a tracking sheet to show it has tracked and followed up on instances in which CDT has issued a warning letter.


60-Day Agency Response

CDT is in progress of updating its Desktop Work Procedures to provide staff with additional direction to monitor warning letters and follow through with the any necessary consequences contained in the respective warning letters.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: August 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


All Recommendations in 2016-124

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.