Defense procurement officials have taken a step toward cracking down on what they have called price gouging within the military spare parts market. They issued a new edict that requires DoD contracting officers to gather cost and pricing data when they enter into agreements with TransDigm Group.
The memo, signed on Friday by Kim Herrington, DoD’s acting director for Defense Pricing and Contracting, tells contracting officers they must “require” that TransDigm turn over uncertified cost data to support the prices the company is charging the government. The mandate applies to situations where TransDigm or its subsidiaries are the only makers of a particular part, a scenario that applies to the vast majority of the company’s business.
The order also tells contracting officers to treat many of their contracts for parts the company makes as non-competitive — even when two or more resellers are bidding to supply the same item.
“The definition of adequate price competition does not address the fact that a sole manufacturer (such as TransDigm) participating in a competition can effectively control the competition by its ability to establish the material pricing for all other offerors,” Herrington wrote. “In these situations, the department does not consider such rigged competitions to be adequate price competition, based on independently submitted offers.”
The memo is highly unusual in that it targets one particular company, rather than laying out a broadly-applicable policy.
It was prompted by a February 2019 DoD inspector general report which found that TransDigm was routinely earning “excess profits” in its Defense contracts. For 17 of the 47 parts in a sample auditors examined, they calculated the company’s profit margins at 1,000% or more, and deemed all but one of the parts to have been marked up to unreasonable levels.