Government oversight group chides DoD for service contract spending

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) criticized the Defense Department (DoD) for not being able to bring service contract spending under control.

In a Nov. 25, 2014 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, POGO charged the DoD with hindering efforts to rein in its service contract spending.

POGO said billions of dollars are being wasted because of the DoD’s failure to assemble contracting data and to implement an Enterprise-wide Contractor Manpower Reporting Application. POGO also said the agency hasn’t adequately staffed its Total Force Management Support Office.

“POGO has reason to believe that this is being done at the urging of the service contractors themselves,” POGO said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/pogo-chides-dod-service-contract-spending/2014-12-02

Read POGO’s Nov. 25, 2015 letter at: http://pogoarchives.org/m/co/pogo_ics_ltr_to_dod_%2020141125.pdf 

Read GAO’s Nov. 19, 2014 report containing finding that DoD had incomplete inventories of its service contracts at: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-88

Senate testimony: Intelligence community needs to keep better tabs on its contractors

The 17 agencies in the intelligence community must get a better handle on the extent of their reliance on contractors, witnesses told a Senate panel on Wednesday. Overuse of outsourcing presents risks to both national security and managerial efficiency, senators and an auditor warned.

“Contractors can provide flexibility and unique expertise, but there are risks” if internal controls, formal planning and documentation are inadequate, Timothy DiNapoli, director of acquisition and sourcing management at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Changes to the definition of core contract personnel limit the comparability of the information over time,” he said, noting that the civilian intelligence community agencies used various methods to calculate the number of contract personnel and did not maintain documentation to validate the number of personnel reported for 37 percent of records reviewed. GAO also found that the civilian intelligence community agencies either under- or over-reported contract obligations by more than 10 percent for one-fifth of the records.

Panel Chairman Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said, “The people we entrust with leadership roles at these agencies need to be able to show the American people, and Congress, that they know who is working for them and why.” Overreliance on contractors behind the intelligence agencies’ secrecy walls presents three hazards, Carper said: hollowing out the in-house workforce and making it weaker, requiring extra layers of management and paying more for work that could have been performed by federal employees.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2014/06/intelligence-community-needs-keep-better-tabs-its-contractors/86758/

Rule would expand scope of personal conflict of interest regulation

Individual federal contractors will likely face increased conflict of interest scrutiny under a proposed regulation.

The rule, proposed April 2, would expand strictures against personal conflicts of interest beyond just contractors with non-governmental acquisition duties. That would make the scope of personal conflict of interest regulations match those controlling organizational conflict of interest.

Currently the Federal Acquisition Regulation limits the definition of personal conflict of interest to those performing jobs closely associated with inherently governmental acquisition work.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/rule-would-expand-personal-conflict-interest-beyond-acquisition/2014-04-22

State Dept. IG issues alert over $6 billion in contracting money unaccounted for

The State Department’s inspector general has warned the department that $6 billion in contracting money over the past six years cannot be properly accounted for and cited “significant financial risk and . . . a lack of internal control.”

The warning was the second “management alert” in State Department history, both issued by new Inspector General Steve Linick. Linick took over the job in late September, after it had been vacant for nearly six years.

oth the alert, dated March 20, and the department’s response a week later, were made public Thursday, April 3, 2014.

The department said it concurred in all recommendations and outlined steps it will take to address what it agreed is a “vulnerability.”

Linick initiated the alert format to report on problems that remain unaddressed despite repeatedly being identified in IG audits and investigations. The first alert, released in January in partly classified form, cited “significant and recurring weaknesses in the Department of State Information System Security Program.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/state-department-inspector-general-issues-alert-over-6-billion-in-contracting-money/2014/04/03/8ebf465c-bb73-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html 

The federal outsourcing boom and why it’s failing Americans

Two of the biggest news events of the past year have been the leaks about top-secret snooping by the NSA and the disastrous rollout of Obamacare. But in an important way, they are both manifestations of a story that has been unfolding for decades — that of a federal government that has outsourced too much of what it does to private contractors while allowing the quality of its own workforce to atrophy.

Lots of Americans were disturbed to learn from Edward Snowden that the government is keeping track of their every phone call and text message. But they might have also wondered why a 30-year-old government contractor in Honolulu, with security clearance that was approved by another private contractor, had routine access to some of the government’s most sensitive secrets. Even worse, two years after Pfc. Bradley Manning did the same thing, Snowden managed to download millions of pages of documents from a computer system designed and managed by private contractors without setting off a single alarm. The whole affair was an embarrassment to Washington’s government contracting sector.

So, too, the fiasco with HealthCare.gov, which despite the bleating of Republicans has almost nothing to do with the wisdom of the new health-care law and everything to do with the way the government and its outside contractors set about implementing it. While several of the contractors failed to perform as promised, in hindsight it appears the government also made a crucial mistake in deciding to rely on the IT staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to manage the contractors and oversee the final integration of the new system. Free-market ideologues will reflexively see in this failure further evidence of the inherent inferiority of public-sector workers. In truth, it is evidence of how outdated civil service rules and ill-conceived caps on the size and pay of the federal workforce have eroded the government’s ability to perform even essential government tasks.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/the-federal-outsourcing-boom-and-why-its-failing-americans/2014/01/31/21d03c40-8914-11e3-833c-33098f9e5267_story.html