FEMA’s 50% rule costing gov’t hundreds of millions of dollars in overpayments

Hundreds of millions of dollars were lost due to a misinterpretation of a Federal Emergency Management Agency rule that funds the replacement or repair of facilities after a natural disaster, according to a recent Homeland Security Department inspector general report.

FEMA’s public assistance program provides financial assistance for people in the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and terrorists attack. The agency spends around $10 billion every year for the Disaster Relief Fund to help people rebuild after a natural disaster.

Under the 50 percent rule, FEMA will replace a facility if the estimated cost of repair exceeds 50 percent of the estimated cost to replace it.

But applying FEMA’s 50 percent repair or replace rule correctly can be very difficult and susceptible to error, misinterpretation and manipulation, the report dated Aug. 7 said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercehomelandsecurity.com/story/ig-femas-50-percent-rule-costing-govt-hundreds-millions-dollars-overpayment/2014-08-21

IG: Google executive broke ethics rules while heading-up DARPA

A Google executive who previously ran a $3 billion Pentagon agency tasked with developing technology for the U.S. military violated ethics rules by pitching products from a company she had previously founded, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pentagon’s watchdog agency.

Regina E. Dugan, who ran the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency from July 2009 until March 2012, was cited by the Defense Department Inspector General’s office for endorsing a specific product, service or enterprise, a breach of ethics.

The IG found that while serving as DARPA’s director she briefed numerous senior defense officials on methods for U.S. troops to find improvised explosive devices and bomb-making facilities. The meetings created potential business opportunities for the company RedXDefense, LLC, in which she was a former chief executive officer, said the IG report, released to The Washington Post through the Freedom of Information Act.

“In communications with senior DoD officials, she used RedX proprietary and other materials originally developed for and used in RedX sales presentations,” states the IG report. “She advanced a theory integral to RedX product development, promoted a multi-step process the RedX product suite used to implement the theory, highlighted the results of field trials that used RedX products to demonstrate the efficacy of the theory and process, and featured a RedX sales slogan. She also endorsed the adoption of an effort to put sensors on dogs, an extension of a DARPA project on which RedX performed.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/08/13/watchdog-google-executive-broke-ethics-rules-while-working-for-pentagons-darpa

IG says Army paid too much upgrading Russian copters

U.S. Army contracting officers overpaid an American company upgrading Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters as contract costs increased almost 70 percent, according to an audit by the Pentagon inspector general.

The Army Contracting Command has responded that it will seek to recoup $128,990 of $151,543 in what the audit called “excess fees” paid since 2010 to Columbia, Maryland-based Science and Engineering Services Inc. The remaining $22,553 in fees was justified, according to the audit by the inspector general dated July 28.

While the amounts wouldn’t put a dent in the Pentagon’s $496 billion annual base budget, the inspector general’s report is the latest of three to question the contracting practices of an Army-run office set up in 2010 to manage the purchase and maintenance of foreign-made helicopters such as the medium-lift Mi-17 transport helicopters sold to U.S. allies Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-12/u-s-army-paid-too-much-upgrading-russian-copters-audit.html

IG: USPS should rescind its facilities contract delegation

The Postal Service should rescind its facilities contract delegation because the contracting officers aren’t required to meet professional qualifications or establish competition requirements, an Aug. 5 USPS inspector general report says.

USPS’s Supply Management office is responsible for approving contracts to acquire goods and services, but they can delegate contracting authority to personnel outside of Supply Management, the report says.

In September 2013, the Postal Service reported six delegations. And though five of those delegations have performed well, the facilities delegation hasn’t, the IG says.

Facilities did not require contracting officers to meet professional qualifications or establish sufficient competition requirements for contracts, the report says. Also, the facilities delegation could not identify its active contracts and did not timely submit the required annual reports.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ig-usps-should-rescind-its-facilities-contract-delegation/2014-08-12

IG: USPS facility nearly 4 months late paying contractors

The Postal Service made payments nearly four months late to contractors shipping mail out of the Indianapolis processing and distribution facility, a recently released USPS inspector general report says.

The distribution center did not process about $74,000 in exceptional service payments in a timely manner over the eight month period from June 2013 through January 2014, the report says. The Postal Service gives bonuses to contractors who provide exceptional service, including changes in normally scheduled transportation operations including extra trips and late leaving trips.

“Management stated that contractors were alarmed by the frequency and amount of payments the Postal Service owed them and were looking for assistance to resolve these payment issues,” the report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ig-usps-facility-nearly-4-months-late-paying-contractors/2014-08-06

Not following interim DoD rule may be costing taxpayers billions

A new report from the U.S. Department of Defense found that Navy and Marine Corps contracting personnel may be subjecting billions of dollars to waste due to non-compliance with cost reimbursement regulations.

According to the department’s internal watchdog, of 170 contracts reviewed, valued at about $7.7 billion, 135 of them, valued at about $7.54 billion were in question because contracting personnel did not consistently implement the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) revision, called the interim rule.

“As a result, contracting personnel continue to issue cost-reimbursement contracts that may increase DoD’s contracting risks because cost-reimbursement contracts provide less incentive for contractors to cut costs,” the Inspector General wrote in the report.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/12/defense-dept-contracting-personnel-may-be-wasting-/ 


IG says USPS needs to better monitor spending on its employee travel cards

U.S. Postal Service travel card coordinators need to more efficiently monitor cash advances that they give to traveling employees because many of those advances potentially didn’t comply with travel policy, says a June 25 report by the inspector general.

The Postal Service provides individual government travel cards to some employees for use while on official travel.

As of Jan. 15, USPS had 44,104 government travel cardholders who made 247,419 purchases, totaling $44.9 million. They also took 8,793 cash advances, totaling $1.6 million, from April 1, 2012, through March 31, 2013, the report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ig-usps-needs-better-monitor-spending-its-employee-travel-cards/2014-07-02

Army to Seek Northrop refunds over inflated labor rates

The U.S. Army will press Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) for refunds after the Pentagon’s inspector general found the contractor charged the service inflated labor rates on programs to fight drug trafficking.

The Army Contracting Command will conduct its own audit “as soon as feasible” of Northrop’s billings and the resumes of subcontractor workers to determine how much money should be repaid, spokeswoman Giselle Lyons said in an e-mail.

Allegations in the report “are being further investigated by the U.S. Army Contracting Command,” she said. “The command is implementing the recommendations proposed to help ensure the proper management and oversight of current and future contract actions.”

Northrop, the fifth-biggest U.S. contractor, charged the Army excessive labor rates for almost six years for more than 300 subcontractor employees working in Afghanistan and in the U.S. on counter-narcotics efforts abroad, the inspector general said in a May 13 report labeled “For Official Use Only” and obtained by Bloomberg News.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-29/army-to-seek-northrop-refunds-over-inflated-labor-rates.html

DoD shows contractor personnel fired for misconduct as eligible for security clearance, IG says

When contractor employees accused of misconduct are fired or quit before DoD makes judgement, the system that records the adjudication still shows them as eligible for security clearance, a DoD inspector general report says.

In all the cases the auditors reviewed, as soon as employee misconduct was discovered, the contracting company either fired the employee or the employee resigned, the report (pdf) says. Once that occurred, the employee no longer had a need for access to classified information and no further personnel security action was taken to adjudicate the misconduct.

Since the case was not adjudicated for revocation of security clearance, it wasn’t reported to the Joint Personnel Adjudicative System – the database that holds information on contractors who’ve lost security clearance due to misconduct, the IG says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/dod-system-still-showing-contractors-fired-misconduct-elegible-security-cle/2014-04-21 


GSA’s new contracting policy tackles IG’s concerns about management interference

The General Services Administration is attempting to clarify to managers and vendors alike the proper approach to overseeing the schedules program.

A February memo and policy is part of the way GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is trying to address a 2013 inspector general report that found examples of improper management interference on decisions by contracting officers under the schedules program.

“We’ve taken a number of actions to reinforce proper procurement while also focusing on doing more for our customers to save them time and money in acquisition,” said Tom Sharpe, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, in an exclusive interview with Federal News Radio. “We’ve moved out on training. We’ve moved out on providing tools for the multiple award schedules, and we are in the process of standardizing part numbers, instilling horizontal pricing pressure. The schedules are priced vertically, the most favored customer price, so we are looking at comparison across suppliers to provide horizontal pricing pressure, and we’ve taken on initiatives to make the processes within the multiple award schedules faster.”

In June, the GSA IG found FAS managers improperly interfered with negotiations for new schedule contracts for Carahsoft, Deloitte and Oracle. GSA executives ended up suspending one senior official in light of what the IG found and have been taking steps over the last nine months to clarify and reinforce the role of managers in schedule contract negotiations.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/74/3609018/GSA-contracting-policy-tackles-IG-concerns-over-autonomy