SBA watchdog warns of IT security risks, poor data in contracting goals

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has made solid headway in addressing most of its 10 major management and performance challenges, but took a step backward on information technology security, its inspector general reported.

SBA - IGSBA also falls short in verifying data and toughening enforcement to curb the number of large companies that improperly win contracts intended for small businesses, according to a report and score card released Oct. 15.

Noting that recent governmentwide security breaches have “heightened the importance of continuously monitoring networks and software applications,” the IG and an external auditor identified IT security “weaknesses when on-boarding and separating SBA personnel,” the report said. The agency lost ground over the past year in implementing such recommendations as reporting IT security weaknesses, segregating duty controls and assuring that “access controls are in place and operating effectively, and contractors are not granted system access until they have obtained the required background investigations and/or security clearances.”

On the SBA-led governmentwide effort to award 23 percent of all prime contracts to qualified small businesses, the score card provides ammunition to outside critics who argue that too many large firms are siphoning off contract set-asides.

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Army Corps of Engineers paid $2.2M for half-finished building, audit shows

The Army Corps of Engineers paid more than $2 million for a half-built facility in Afghanistan that it has plans to complete, according to an Aug. 25 Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report.

usaceIn 2012, a Kandahar Airfield Infrastructure Planning Board official proposed construction of a command and control facility at Camp Brown to support missions in southern and western Afghanistan.

The USACE awarded the contract for the facility in June 2012, and the facility was supposed to be completed by July 2013, SIGAR says in the report.

From November 2012 to August 2013, USACE sent more than a dozen letters to the contractor pointing out issues with the work site, including safety hazards, poor quality and lack of timely design submittals as well as construction schedule slippage, the report says.

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How botched $600 million worth of contracts

The public employees responsible for overseeing $600 million in contracts to build were inadequately trained, kept sloppy records, and failed to identify delays and problems that contributed to millions in cost overruns.

That’s according to a new government audit, published today. It reveals widespread failures by the federal agency charged with managing the private contractors who built The audit is the first to document, in detail, how shoddy oversight by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which manages federal health programs including Obamacare, contributed to the website’s early struggles. - $799 Million

To develop, CMS hired and managed private companies to create vast, interlocking software systems that would allow consumers to shop for insurance policies. According to the report, issued by the agency’s inspector general, lapses in oversight of those companies started early on—well before the website’s limping debut, on Oct. 1, 2013. The site faltered for months, frustrating consumers until a scramble to repair it ultimately allowed millions to enroll in health plans.

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Lockheed pays $4.8M to settle illegal lobbying claim

Sandia Corp. and parent company Lockheed Martin, which operate the federally-funded Sandia National Laboratories, agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle claims that the company used taxpayer money to lobby congress to extend its contract to manage the research facility in violation of federal law.

Sandia National LaboratoriesThe Department of Justice opened an investigation earlier this year after an inspector general report showed the company used federal funds to stand up an in-house lobbying team to develop a strategy to extend the management contract for the facility at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after it was set to expire in 2012.

Documents obtained by the IG revealed a strategy to influence congressmen and federal officials — including then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu. While these lobbying efforts were not explicitly illegal, laws and regulations prohibit the use of federal funds for such purposes.

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Postal Service purchase card program needs better oversight, new audit finds

A new U.S. Postal Service audit found inadequate oversight in regards to the use of expense purchase cards despite policies and procedures in place. 

USPS logoThe USPS inspector general (IG) said in an Aug. 7, 2015 report that, of the 209 transactions – worth $72,333 – it reviewed, 133 were missing the required documentation. And, of those missing, 51 were made without proper approval.

Additionally, cardholders for 42 percent of the transactions and approving officials for 41 percent either did not take the required expense purchase card training or could not provide proof of completion, the IG said.

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