The Indian Well being Service (IHS) serves over 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. These teams have been disproportionately weak to detrimental outcomes from COVID-19. Throughout emergencies, federal contracting employees face strain to work shortly to satisfy elevated wants. We examined a few of IHS’s COVID-related contracts to see how the company’s efforts fared.
Regardless of dealing with challenges, together with unprecedented demand for medical provides, IHS was in a position to purchase wanted merchandise from quite a lot of distributors. IHS contract obligations for merchandise, excluding pharmaceuticals, elevated considerably throughout COVID-19 to handle emergent wants for extra private protecting tools, lab provides, and extra. Utilizing emergency contracting flexibilities accessible beneath federal regulation, IHS
purchased private protecting tools and different medical merchandise in bulk
awarded contracts noncompetitively
used streamlined procedures for increased greenback contracts to acquire medical provides quicker
Nonetheless, we discovered that IHS contracting officers didn’t discover that some COVID-related provides have been delivered late. Officers attributed this oversight to the spike in quantity in addition to the urgency of procurements throughout a pandemic.
Contracting officers are liable for guaranteeing the phrases of a contract are met—beneath regular circumstances and in emergency acquisitions. IHS officers informed us that they started taking intermediate steps to enhance monitoring of merchandise throughout 2020; the company is presently acquiring new software program to enhance contractor oversight.
IHS Contract Obligations Elevated Considerably Because of COVID-19
We analyzed related federal procurement knowledge via June 30, 2021. We additionally reviewed 4 contracts—masking about 1/4 of obligations in IHS’s largest product class (medical and surgical devices, tools, and provides). We additionally interviewed IHS contracting officers.