Federal Manager's Daily Report

A Senate report calls for establishing a common definition in the Federal Acquisition Regulation for bridge contracts and for a series of reports on how agencies use such contracts.

“When used too frequently, bridge contracts reduce competition and can result in the government paying more than it should for needed services and supplies,” the report says. “When a contract is awarded outside of the competitive process, such as when an incumbent contractor is granted a sole-source contract, heightened oversight is necessary to ensure the government is getting the best value.”

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The report was filed in support of S-2413, which cleared the committee level in February; with the filing of the report, the measure could reach a floor vote at any time.

The measure follows a GAO report finding that the government has no standard definition of what constitutes such a contract, which generically speaking involves an extension of an existing contract beyond its period of performance, or a new short-term contract awarded on a sole-source basis to a current contractor to avoid a lapse in service caused by a delay in awarding a follow-on contract.

Because there is no standard definition, agencies also lack guidance regarding their use and are not able to track such contracts and monitor the risks associated with them, GAO found. For example, even though such contracts are designed as short-term fixes, it found that six of the 29 contracts it studied in depth continued for three additional years or longer.