The Pathology of Administrative Appeals: A Chiropractic Approach to Improving DOD Acquisitions
42 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2011 Last revised: 27 Oct 2011
Date Written: 2011
What do appeals of administrative decisions tell us about the processes that give rise to them? Bid protests of Department of Defense source selections are illustrative. Rejected bidders can appeal to the Government Accountability Office. GAO sustains protests - few, but costly and growing - on grounds of procedural irregularity. Integrating concepts from organizational economics, conflict management, and dispute systems design, we develop a chiropractic approach to understanding how misalignments among management practices within agencies generate procedural errors and, thereby, appeals. We interviewed approximately thirty participants across the acquisition community and analyzed GAO’s bid protest decisions from 2001 to 2009. This revealed a pathology of conflict arising from misalignments among agency strategies, structures, human resources, policies and procedures, and monitoring mechanisms. Contracting out strategically, expanding authority and responsibility for risk management, creating professional development opportunities, revisiting policies on bundling and duration of contracts, and using performance information to incentivize the workforce would help to realign management practices, creating conditions for participants in the process to resolve problems earlier, mitigating errors and bid protests.
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