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UNICOR Products - Federal Prison Industries Can Further Ensure Customer Satisfaction

NCJ Number
Date Published
43 pages
Federal Prison Industries (trade name, UNICOR) is a profitable Government-owned corporation that sells many different products to Federal agencies and employs thousands of Federal prisoners. This General Accounting Office (GAO) study examined whether improvements were needed in UNICOR's efforts to (1) set and maintain prices, (2) stay abreast of and deal with customer problems, and (3) grant clearances for agencies to buy elsewhere.
During 1983-85, GAO conducted an audit and work site visits and interviewed UNICOR officials and UNICOR customers (e.g., Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Postal Service, General Services Administration, and Veterans Administration). These customers reported few problems with UNICOR. Overall, they appeared satisfied with its prices, although some believed prices were too high. Because UNICOR is not doing market checks as required, neither UNICOR nor GAO knows to what extent the corporation is complying with the law to price products and services within current market prices. UNICOR was taking actions to stay abreast of customer satisfaction and did respond to customer complaints. Overall, UNICOR's clearance process appeared to be working well. However, the process could be avoided in many instances by improving product catalogs. Recommendations define actions UNICOR should take to ensure prices comply with the law and to improve the customer clearance process. Appendixes provide supplementary research data and a listing of relevant GAO audit reports. (Publisher abstract modified)