Monday, November 13, 2017

DCAA To Share Audit Function With Commercial Firms - Part 1

The 2018 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) Conference Report has been published. The Conference Report refers to the final version of a bill that is negotiated between the House and the Senate via conference committee. It will still need to be submitted to each Chamber for its consideration for approval or disapproval but in the past, NDAA conference reports are routinely passed by both the House and Senate. So, assuming the President signs the bill, it will become law.

Our coverage of the NDAA focuses on contracting matters - provisions that will affect contractors or prospective contractors. And this year's NDAA is going to change the way many Government contractors are audited. The Department of Defense will be making a major shift toward using commercial audit firms to conduct incurred cost audits instead of exclusively relying upon DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) to perform their incurred cost audits. We can't foresee whether this is good news or not such good news for contractors.

The good news is that audits will be completed much quicker than they presently are. Audits will need to be completed within a year after the Government receives an adequate incurred cost submission from the contractor. More good news includes the fact that the Government and contractors will be able to close out contracts much quicker. The big uncertainty for contractors however is the unknowns that come with a new audit organization. Will the audits be more detailed or less detailed in scope? Will commercial auditors have the same materiality threshold as Government auditors?

We will spend a few days unpacking the content of the new bill. There's a lot to it. But here's the essence: To support the need of the Defense Department for timely and effective incurred cost audits, and to ensure that DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) is able to allocate resources to higher-risk and more complex audits, the Secretary of Defense shall use qualified private auditors to perform a sufficient number of incurred cost audits;

  1. To eliminate any backlog of incurred cost audits by October 1, 2020.
  2. Ensure that incurred cost audits are completed not later than one year after the date of receipt of a qualified incurred cost submission
  3. Maintain an appropriate mix of Government and prive sector capacity to meet the current and future needs of DoD to perform incurred cost audits
  4. Ensure that qualified private auditors perform incurred cost audits on an ongoing basis to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of incurred cost audits
  5. Limit multi-year auditing (obviously you cannot perform multi-year auditing and achieve one year turn-around)

Privatization of the incurred cost audit function under this bill is not a one-time shot to help DCAA eliminate its backlog. The bill intends privatization to be a permanent, on-going, and substantial part of contract audits.

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