DoD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Defense (DoD) has recommended that a contractor be requested to provide a refund based on “excessive profits.”
On February 25, 2019, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Defense (DoD) issued an audit report analyzing the prices of spare aviation parts purchased by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the Army from TransDigm Group, Inc.
The audit was conducted in response to letters from certain Members of Congress, who had inquired whether the spare parts were sold at fair and reasonable prices and in compliance with the Truthful Cost or Pricing Data Act (formerly known as the Truth in Negotiations Act or TINA).
The OIG’s audit confirmed that both TransDigm and the responsible DoD contracting officers fully complied with the Act and related regulations governing the price negotiations, but the OIG nonetheless concluded that the contractor earned excess profit on the majority of parts sold. In a highly unusual move, the OIG recommended that DoD request a “voluntary refund” from TransDigm of its allegedly “excessive” profits, and the OIG also recommended a number of changes to statutory, regulatory, and administrative policies governing the provision of cost or pricing data.
The OIG’s Findings
At the request of U.S. Representatives Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the OIG reviewed the price reasonableness of 47 spare aircraft parts DoD procured from TransDigm between January 2015 and January 2017. Using uncertified cost or pricing data that it collected during the audit, the OIG calculated the apparent profit realized by the contractor on the sale of each part, and concluded that the contractor realized “unreasonable” profits (defined as profits of greater than 15% in the report) on all but one of the parts. (The OIG arrived at the 15 percent profit percentage, in part, by looking at maximum profit percentages allowed in the FAR for three different types of contracts, none of which were fixed price.) The OIG applied this finding to a broader sampling of contracts held by TransDigm, and concluded that the contractor had earned $16.1 million in “excess profit” (i.e., profit over 15 percent) for the parts at issue.
The OIG concluded that a number of factors contributed to these supposedly “excessive” profits.