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ACQUISITION AND PROCUREMENT: Master Services Agreements Are Not Strategically Managed, and Award and Oversight Processes Can Be Improved
Since fiscal year (FY) 2009, Amtrak (the company) has increased its use of a contracting vehicle called a Master Services Agreement (MSA) from as few as 10 in FY 2009 to at least 76 ongoing in FY 2016. Designed as a mechanism to expedite acquiring professional services, such as information technology (IT) support, the company has spent at least $404 million on MSA contracts from October 2008 through September 2016, based on available data. The company uses these MSAs for a variety of purposes. For example, the company’s IT department began using MSAs in FY 2009 to augment its permanent staff by acquiring contractors with specialized skillsets, and other departments are using them to complete specific projects when professional services are needed.
Our objective was to evaluate the company’s use of MSAs. To do this, we identified leading practices for awarding and overseeing service contracts from the American Productivity and Quality Center, U.S. Office of Management and Budget, U.S. Department of Transportation, several universities, and other sources. We also applied management control standards from the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission for private entities and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) for public entities.