(4) Agencies should deal with unasstified obligations using the ratification power of this Subsection, instead of referring such measures to the Government Accountability Office. (See paragraphs 1.602 to 3(d.) (1) Agencies should take positive measures to avoid as far as possible the need for ratification measures. Although this section provides for enforcement procedures in cases where ratification of an unauthorized obligation is required, these procedures shall not be applied in a manner that promotes these obligations by government personnel. (5) Unauthorized obligations that involve claims subject to settlement pursuant to 41 U.S. .C Chapter 71, Contract Disputes, should be dealt with in accordance with Subsection 33.2, Disputes and Appeals. Recommendation: The Minister of Energy should take steps to develop procedures for identifying unauthorized obligations within the Ministry. Comments: The DOE believes that its current informal system for identifying unauthorized obligations is appropriate. Supplies or services are ordered by a person who is not listed on an acquisition card or who has been identified in a contract or framework contract of sale. Note: A promotion document is not a contractual document. Personnel responsible for unauthorized obligations are required to provide detailed written explanations of their actions and may be subject to disciplinary measures, especially when violations are manifest and/or repeated.
Ratification as used in this subsection means the approval of an unauthorized obligation by an official authorized to do so. In fiscal year 1979, the Department of Energy (DOE) made this, on its notified commitments, the largest civil purchasing entity in the federal government. The Federal Procurement Regulations, which regulate most civil agency purchases, give authorized contractors exclusive authority to enter into contracts. However, DOE staff, who have no public authority, have asked contractors to carry out work. This circumvents established public procurement rules and eliminates the possibility of competition. The DOE has put in place specific ratification procedures for entering into contracts as a result of unauthorized obligations. These procedures require a detailed presentation of the reasons for the obligation, the checks carried out by the contract staff member and the General Counsel, and the approval of the Purchasing Director. However, some offices have raised suspicions of contracts or granted retroactive pre-contract authorizations instead of following DOE ratification procedures for unauthorized obligations.. .