GAO Recommends Better Tracking of Procurement Center Representative Activities
Published: August 05, 2020
A recent GAO analysis of Procurement Center Representative (PCR) activities revealed limited documentation, lack of a central repository, and vague rationale in the assignment of PCRs to specific federal buying activity areas.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides vehicles to enhance federal contracting opportunities for small businesses, such as set-aside programs and subcontracting goals. Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) advocate for contracting with small businesses during the procurement process. PCRs help assure that small businesses have an equitable opportunity to participate in federal contracts by making set-aside recommendations to contracting officers.
GAO analyzed PCR activities aimed at assisting small businesses in gaining federal work. GAO also assessed how SBA went about assigning PCRs to cover federal contracting activities in specific regions of the country.
According to SBA, 48 PCRs cover more than 3,400 federal buying locations at agencies and departments around the country. Some PCRs are co-located at a buying activity and others are located at SBA offices. SBA assigns PCRs to divisions in federal agencies that purchase goods and services. SBA bases PCR assignments on geographic region, specific federal agencies, and the small business contracting potential. However, SBA has not submitted reports to Congress as required by the Small Business Act on its rationale for assigning PCRs to cover buying organizations, and the activities the PCRs perform. GAO believes this lack of reporting limits potential Congressional oversight.
GAO also found that documentation of PCR activities is lacking. PCRs are required to maintain reports on their activities and the supporting documentation. However, much of the supporting documentation is stored on PCRs’ individual computers. SBA recently implemented a database for storing and reporting PCR activities and metrics, but the database does not maintain the supporting documentation.
GAO advises that “a central repository for PCRs to store their supporting documentation would provide greater assurance that the documentation is maintained as required and help SBA verify the accuracy of the data PCRs report on their activities.”
PCRs revealed to GAO challenges they face in fulfilling their responsibilities, such as:
- Lack of travel funding
- Difficulties accessing agency contracting systems
- Contracting initiatives that result in fewer contracts
GAO concluded that PCRs play an important role in helping small businesses to gain access to federal contracting opportunities, but better documentation and reporting on their activities is needed. GAO recommends that SBA develop a central repository for PCRs to store the supporting documentation for the data they report on their activities. GAO also recommends that SBA submit required reports to Congress on PCR assignments and activities. SBA concurred with GAO’s recommendations.