The Defense Department Inspector General (IG) recently evaluated whether contracting officers took actions that were appropriate and complied with FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) 15.4, Contract Pricing, when the auditors (specifically DCAA or Defense Contract Audit Agency) determined that a contractor's price proposal was inadequate because those proposals did not comply with the specific requirements of FAR 15.4.
The good news is that the IG found that contracting officers did indeed take appropriate action to address proposal deficiencies identified by DCAA. In 23 of 23 proposals identified by DCAA as unacceptable as a basis for negotiations, contracting officers took the necessary actions to resolve the inadequacies.
The bad news however is that the contracting officers did not document the inadequacies or the actions taken to address the inadequacies in the contract file. Such documentation is required by FAR 15.406-3, Documenting the Negotiation.
The (Acting) Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment recently sent out a reminder to contracting officers to, in essence, get their act together and comply with the documentation requirements. The memorandum reminded contracting officers that they have an affirmative requirement to document all DCAA identified inadequacies and to document why the actions taken appropriately address the contract price proposal inadequacies. By doing so, the memorandum concluded, contracting officers will have properly accounted for any issues of noncompliance or other discrepancies identified int he DCAA audit.
While we were auditors, we encountered many contractor proposals that were inadequate in not including the detail and support required by FAR 15.4. Some deficiencies were certainly more egregious than others but when the magnitude rose to a level where we didn't think the Government could achieve fair and reasonable pricing based on the garbage submitted, we would advise the contracting officer accordingly and recommend he/she not negotiate. Whatever actions contracting officers might have taken to resolve those inadequacies were rarely satisfactory to the audit community. Evidently contracting officers answer to a higher power than the contract auditor who are often viewed as an impediment to a smooth negotiation process.
The full IG report can be read or downloaded here.