Tool proves valuable in tracking, resolving UACs
July 8, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (July 8, 2013) -- A database tool for tracking and managing unauthorized commitments throughout the command has led to a significant decrease in unresolved commitments in its first year of use.
Field support and information technology members from the Mission and Installation Contracting teamed last year to develop the database that would replace a shared spreadsheet for managing the command's unauthorized commitments, or UACs.
"The MICC takes UACs very serious and tracks them by activities to ensure they are being handled properly, identify trends and brief occurrence through command channels," said Terry Lazenby, a procurement analyst with the field support directorate.
Fielded at the start of this fiscal year, the database available through the MICC SharePoint site has proven to be a successful tool for real-time reporting of UACs as well as critical in reducing the backlog of open unauthorized commitments from 172 to 41 -- a 76-percent reduction. An additional 32 UACs were also identified in the past year.
"The estimated value of unresolved UACs likewise went from $4.8 million to $2.2 million over the same time period," Lazenby said. "The increased visibility afforded by the UAC database served as a catalyst for significant progress in reducing the backlog."
She said contracting officers can input new UACs into an easy-to-use, fill-in form with drop down menus and make status changes with only a few clicks of the mouse. The database also serves as a management tool that gives field directors insight into detailed information on every UAC within their responsibility. It also allows MICC headquarters personnel the ability to run reports and gather data in minutes versus the manual counts from the antiquated Army Knowledge Online site reporting system.
The database also contributes to the reduction of UACs by offering users the ability to quickly recognize cancelled or duplicate entries as well as UACs that had been ratified without being marked closed.
An unauthorized commitment is an act by an employee or military member who accepts or otherwise obligates the government to pay for goods and services without authority. On occasion, government representatives make agreements to buy goods or service on behalf of the government without the proper authority.
These non-binding agreements must be ratified in order for a vendor to receive payment. Ratification is the act of approving a UAC by an official who has the authority to do so.
"Failure to track and process unauthorized commitments for ratification in a timely manner can result in difficulty in assessing the circumstances and properly documenting the action, lost funding, congressional inquiries and law suits," Lazenby said. "Additionally, the person responsible for committing the UAC may be liable for the commitment until the action is ratified."
Until last year, the log for reporting UACs was a vast spreadsheet residing on the AKO site that MICC personnel across the country were required to update monthly. Lazenby said the AKO system of reporting was not user friendly for uploading new or revised reports, and routinely personnel would upload outdated reports over newer reports, resulting in lost data and frustration.
The MICC is responsible for providing contracting support for the warfighter throughout Army commands, installations and activities located throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. In fiscal 2012, the command executed more than 58,000 contract actions worth more than $6.3 billion across the Army, including more than $2.6 billion to small businesses. The command also managed more than 1.2 million Government Purchase Card Program transactions valued at an additional $1.3 billion.