OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
Review of Hotline Complaint on
EPA's Pre-Award Activities for
Multiple Award Contracts at the
National Computer Center
Report No. 13-P-0220
April 15, 2013

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Report Contributors:
Rudolph M. Brevard
Warren Brooks
Scott Sammons
Abbreviations
EPA	U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
NCC	National Computer Center
OIG	Office of Inspector General
Hotline
To report fraud, waste, or abuse, contact us through one of the following methods:
email: OIG Hotline@epa.gov	write: EPA Inspector General Hotline
phone: 1-888-546-8740	1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
fax:	202-566-2599	Mailcode 2431T
online:
http://www.epa.gov/oiq/hotline.htm
Washington, DC 20460

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At a Glance
Why We Did This Review
We reviewed pre-award
activities for multiple award
contracts at the U.S.
Environmental Protection
Agency's National Computer
Center. The review was
conducted in response to an
Office of Inspector General
hotline complaint. The
complaint alleged that:
	The NCC did not provide a
fair opportunity to all
vendors in a recent request
for proposal for the
acquisition of information
technology equipment.
 EPA contractor personnel
disclosed misleading
information to a vendor
regarding the outcome of
the selection process.
This report addresses the
following EPA Goal or
Cross-Cutting Strategy:
	Strengthening EPA's
workforce and capabilities.
Review of Hotline Complaint on EPA's
Pre-Award Activities for Multiple Award
Contracts at the National Computer Center
What We Found
We found no evidence to support allegations made in the complaint. However,
we determined that the EPA could improve communications with vendors during
pre-award activities. We found instances where there were opportunities to
improve communication with vendors that could help thwart misunderstandings
and confusion related to the federal acquisition process. Federal guidance
recommends that information be communicated to relevant personnel at all levels
within an organization, including outside organizations. There was no evidence
that the NCC communicated guidelines or regulations related to acquisitions to
the hotline complainant (a vendor) during initial pre-award activities. Without
communicating guidelines and regulations in initial communications with vendors,
misunderstandings and false expectations related to the acquisition process
could arise.
Recommendations and Agency Corrective Actions
We recommend that the Director, National Computer Center:
1.	Develop disclosure language outlining communication protocols between
the agency and vendors to include all written communications with
vendors during pre-award activities.
2.	Distribute a memorandum to managers emphasizing the importance of
implementing protocols developed in response to recommendation 1.
The agency agreed with our recommendations and developed a communications
protocol and guidelines and communicated those to all NCC staff.
For further information, contact
our Office of Congressional and
Public Affairs at (202) 566-2391.
The full report is at:
www.epa.qov/oiq/reports/2013/
20130415-13-P-0220.pdf

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< rJK-7 5	UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
| W\/C/ 	WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460
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April 15, 2013
MEMORANDUM
SUBJECT: Review of Hotline Complaint on EPA's Pre-Award Activities for
Multiple Award Contracts at the National Computer Center
Report No. 13-P-0220
THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
FROM: Arthur A. Elkins Jr. uAW ^ ' 
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objectives. We believe the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our recommendations and
conclusions.
As part of our analysis, the OIG reviewed relevant EPA procedures and federal regulations to obtain an
understanding of guidelines and rules related to pre-award activities for multiple award contracts. We
also reviewed contract files and other documents and communications related to the acquisition of the
information technology equipment, as well as pre-award activity documentation. Further, we conducted
interviews with the following individuals to determine whether the EPA has followed agency policies
and procedures related to pre-award activities for multiple award contracts:
	The complainant, who provided details of the OIG hotline complaint.
	EPA contractor personnel who were tasked with testing the equipment during the market
research phase of the pre-award activity.
	EPA personnel from the Office of Administration and Resources Management's Office of
Acquisition Management, responsible for managing the acquisitions and maintaining contract files
related to the acquisitions.
	EPA personnel from the NCC responsible for initiating the acquisition of the information
technology equipment.
We found no evidence to support allegations made in the complaint. However, we determined that the
EPA could improve communications with vendors during pre-award activities. During our review of
contract documentation, we identified email communications between the EPA and the vendor who had
subsequently filed the hotline complaint, attempting to clarify the vendor's interpretation of acquisition
procedures and regulations. We recognized instances where there were opportunities for improvement in
the communication. Office of Management and Budget Circular A-123, Management's Responsibility
for Internal Control, states "Information should be communicated to relevant personnel at all levels
within an organization. The information should be relevant, reliable, and timely. It is also crucial that an
agency communicate with outside organizations as well, whether providing information or receiving it."
There was no evidence that the NCC included any communications or disclosures to the complainant of
any federal or agency protocols or regulations related to acquisitions during initial pre-award activities.
Without communicating guidelines and regulations in initial communications with vendors,
misunderstandings and false expectations related to the acquisition process could arise.
Recommendations and Agency Corrective Actions
We recommend that the Director, National Computer Center:
1.	Develop disclosure language outlining communication protocols between the agency and
vendors to include all written communications with vendors during pre-award activities.
2.	Distribute a memorandum to managers emphasizing the importance of implementing protocols
developed in response to recommendation 1.
The agency agreed with our recommendations and developed a communication protocol and guidelines
and communicated those to all NCC staff.
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The agency's response to our discussion draft report included proposed corrective actions and
completion dates. The agency provided us with documentation that the recommendations have been
implemented. Our analysis confirmed the agency completed the corrective actions on March 14, 2013.
We have no objections to the further release of this report to the public. We will post this report to our
website at http://www.epa.gov/oig.
If anyone has any questions regarding this report, please contact Melissa Heist, assistant inspector
general for audit, at (202) 566-0899 or heist.melissa@epa.gov; or Rudolph M. Brevard, product line
director, at (202) 566-0893 or brevard.rudv@epa.gov.
13-P-0220
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Status of Recommendations and
Potential Monetary Benefits
RECOMMENDATIONS	POTENTIAL MONETARY
BENEFITS (In $000s)
Rec.
No.
Page
No.
Subject
Status1
Action Official
Completion
Date
Claimed Agreed-To
Amount Amount
1
2
Develop disclosure language outlining
communication protocols between agency and
vendors to include all written communications with
vendors during pre-award activities.
C
Director,
National Computer Center
03/14/13

2
2
Distribute a memorandum to managers
emphasizing the importance of implementing
protocols developed in response to
C
Director,
National Computer Center
03/14/13

recommendation 1.
1 0 = recommendation is open with agreed-to corrective actions pending
C = recommendation is closed with all agreed-to actions completed
U = recommendation is unresolved with resolution efforts in progress
13-P-0220

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Appendix A
Agency Response to Discussion Draft Report
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC 27711
OFFICE OF
ENVIRONMENATAL INFORMATION
March 19, 2013
MEMORANDUM
SUBJECT: Response to Office of Inspector General Discussion Draft No. OMS-FY12-0012,
"Improved Communications with Vendors Needed for EPA's Pre-award
Activities for Multiple Award Contracts at the National Computer Center,"
dated 2/28/2013
David Updike, Director
National Computer Center
Office of Technology Operations and Planning
Vaughn Noga, Director
Office of Technology Operations and Planning
and Agency Chief Technology Officer
Rudolph M. Brevard, Director
Information Resources Management Audits
Office of Inspector General
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the issues and recommendations in the subject audit
report. Following is a summary of the Office of Technology Operations and Planning's (OTOP)
overall position, along with my position on each of the report recommendations. I have provided
below high-level corrective actions and estimated completion dates.
AGENCY'S OVERALL POSITION
I concur with the recommendations contained in the report. Communications protocol and
guidelines have been developed and communicated to all National Computer Center (NCC) staff
with specific emphasis on effective management and oversight of all communications with
vendors during potential and active procurement solicitation.

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13-P-0220
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AGENCY'S RESPONSE TO REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS
Agreements
No.
Recommendation
High Level Intended Corrective
Action
Estimated
Completion
Date
1
Develop disclosure language outlining
communication protocols between
agency and vendors to include all
written communications with vendors
during pre-award activities.
Develop communication protocol
and guidelines for communicating
with vendors during pre-award
activities.
3/22/13
2
Distribute a memorandum to managers
emphasizing the importance of
implementing protocols developed in
response to recommendation 1.
Distribute memo to all NCC staff
emphasizing effective management
and oversight of all
communications with vendors
during pre-award activities.
3/22/13
CONTACT INFORMATION
If you have any questions regarding this response, please contact me at 919-541-0780.
cc: Scott Dockum, OEI Audit Follow-up Coordinator
Anne Mangiafico, OTOP Audit Coordinator
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Appendix B
Distribution
Office of the Administrator
Director, National Computer Center, Office of Technology Operations and Planning,
Office of Environmental Information
Assistant Administrator for Environmental Information and Chief Information Officer
Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management
Agency Follow-Up Official (the CFO)
Agency Follow-Up Coordinator
General Counsel
Associate Administrator for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations
Associate Administrator for External Affairs and Environmental Education
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Environmental Information
Director, Office of Technology Operations and Planning, Office of Environmental Information
Director, Office of Acquisition Management, Office of Administration and Resources
Management
Audit Follow-Up Coordinator, Office of Environmental Information
Audit Follow-Up Coordinator, Office of Administration and Resources Management
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