Thursday, March 19, 2015

GAO's High-Risk List - DoD Contract Management

Yesterday we introduced the topic that we'll be spending a few days discussing - GAO's (General Accountability Office) High-Risk List of agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation. Today's high-risk area is DoD's Contract Management functions. This area was added to GAO's high-risk list for 23 years (since 1992) and has been on the list ever since. How many procurement reforms have we gone through since 1992? Seems like a lot. The current administration is on its third incarnation alone (Better Buying Power 3.0). Not much seems to change though and GAO continues to focus on DoD procurement.

Ensuring DoD has the people, skills, capacities, tools, and data needed to make informed acquisition decisions is essential if DoD is to effectively and efficiently carry out is mission in an era of more constrained resources. GAO has identified four challenges that DoD faces:

  1. The acquisition workforce
  2. Contracting techniques and approaches.
  3. Service acquisitions, and
  4. Operational contract support.

Acquisition workforce: Although DoD increased its civilian worforce from 126 thousand to 150 thousand between 2008 and 2013, the GAO believes that in the area of cost estimating and systems engineering, DoD does not have adequate resources to fully implement recent weapon system reform initiatives. Further, DoD has not determined the appropriate size of the workforce and has not allocated sufficient funds to meet is workforce requirements. As a result, DoD cannot fully monitor its progress in meeting its goals for the acquisition workforce.

Contracting Techniques and Approaches (CTA). CTA encompasses the broad array of options available to DoD acquisition and contracting personnel to acquire goods and services. This includes choosing the most appropriate contract type and the effective use of competition. Although GAO acknowledged progress in this area, it intends to maintain its focus on identifying challenges and proposing solutions.

Service Acquisition. DoD does not have an action plan that would enable it to assess progress toward achieving its goals. GAO continues to find that DoD faces challenges in meeting its statutory requirement to prepare an annual inventory of contracted services - one that could help it manage its acquisition of services, make more strategic decisions about the right workforce mix of military civilian, and contractor personnel, and better align resource needs through the budget process to achieve that mix.

Operational contract support: The GAO has identified long-standing issues in DoD's use of contractors to support contingency operations, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although DoD has made some progress in integrating operational contract support through policy, planning, and training there are still plenty of areas that require management attention. For example, DoD regularly identifies shortfalls in the number of dedicated civilian operation contract support analysts and planners yet fails to address those needs.

Tomorrow, NASA Acquisition Management

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