With all the attention paid to the stimulus -- to contractor waste and fraud, questionable job creation numbers, and inaccurate data -- it's easy to understand why federal agencies are feeling the pressure to get their act together when it comes to the handling and oversight of stimulus contracts.
According to a report by the Commerce Department's inspector general, many agencies are now prioritizing Recovery Act work to such a point that non-stimulus operations are being compromised. Staff members work increased hours, non-stimulus contract awards suffer delays, and contracts receive less oversight.
"Recovery Act funding has substantially increased the workload of most agencies receiving these funds, as agencies were expected to make additional awards as quickly as possible while adhering to regulations and procedures that would ensure a fair and competitive process," explains the report, which surveyed 29 federal agencies, both large and small, at the request of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. Of the agencies surveyed, 26 responded.
Staffing was reported to be inadequate at 41 percent of large agencies, while 45 percent reported that staffing levels are adequate but are such that the stimulus workload has an impact on non-stimulus work. For smaller agencies, 23 percent reported that staffing is inadequate, while 52 percent reported levels were adequate but had an impact on non-stimulus work.
(Further reading at GovExec.com)