When it comes to information technology projects, federal agencies have a reputation for tacking on so many one-of-a-kind requirements that the end product ends up over budget, behind schedule or both.
The U.S. Postal Service, though, seems to have a contrary problem: its primary contract management system needs more customization, not less.
That system is riddled with errors, the USPS inspector general concluded in a newly released report. Out of a sample of 139 contracting actions worth almost $2.1 billion, 137 had mistakes in such basic fields as “award type” and “contract effective date.” Some of the mistakes in what is officially known as the Contract Authoring and Management System, or CAMS, resulted from faulty data entry, the IG found. Far more occurred because CAMS “is a commercial off-the-shelf package that is not specifically tailored to the Postal Service’s contracting practices,” the report said.
It does not, for example, allow employees to choose an award type for delivery or task orders. Nor does it permit the selection of more than one award type for hybrid contracting actions. Taken all together, the Postal Service “cannot accurately report the types of contracts it awards, how it awards them, when it makes procurements and the types of products and services purchased,” the report said.
While postal officials disputed the seriousness of the problem, they did acknowledge the problems with CAMS and have already announced plans to upgrade the system.