Monday, September 16, 2019

DCAA to Triple The Number of Defective Pricing Audits

Bloomberg published an article last week reporting that DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) plans to triple the number of defective pricing audits in the upcoming fiscal year. Defective pricing audits are tests for contractor compliance with the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA).

According to the article, DCAA intends to complete 60 defective pricing audits in the coming fiscal year.  During fiscal years 2017 to 2019, the Agency completed 26, 21, and 20 respectively. Bloomberg notes that at least two congressional committees are reviewing the Pentagon's enforcement of TINA, a law intended to prevent unjustified profits based on incomplete, flawed or inaccurate cost or pricing data (actually the term "flawed" is not part of TINA. TINA refers to 'current', 'complete', and 'accurate').

Not only does DCAA intended to triple the number of audits it intends to complete but it also plans to quintuple the number of audit hours applied to those reviews.

One of the reasons, besides ongoing Congressional oversight, for the increase in the number of defective pricing audits is the track record of positive audit findings. The former Director for defense pricing noted that during his tenure, 100 percent of the contracts examined at one top-25 defense contractor had 'suspect' defective pricing. And he also added that "If one looks deep enough there is some element of fraud typically lurking". For example:
In a number of cases we expected profit outcomes of 12% to 15% ... but (the auditors) found levels of between 25% and 80% on some sole-source weapons contracts. That does not happen by outstanding performance but by faulty contractor cost estimating or in the worst case, fraud.
Since fiscal year 2015, nearly 75 percent of defective pricing audits have uncovered potential noncompliances with TINA. The amount challenged is almost $600 million (though after the issues are settled, will be something less than that). Ten of those audits have been referred to investigators as suspected irregular conduct and eight of those ten are currently active cases.

TINA applies to negotiated contracts over $700 thousand or $2 million, depending upon when the contracts were negotiated. Competitively awarded contracts and contracts based on commercial item pricing are not subject to TINA. It is likely that DCAA will be concentrating its efforts on the larger Defense contracts; the top 10 or the top 25. If you don't fall in those categories, it is unlikely that your contracts will be selected for audit.

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