ILSM on GAO Audits

This one is by ILSM…

This post relates to GAO 08-467SP: Assessment of Selected Weapon Systems (warning – its a PDF file about 6 meg in size)

Today I want to present some ideas on one of their corollaries for why the DoD Weapon Systems do not meet requirements. It is as if you graduate your F students all the time. Okay happens for certain fellas at Yale and Harvard Business but not okay if there were ever a need for the useless stuff.

The GAO concludes from a study of 52 programs that about 48% of the program staffs were contractors or other non government personnel. This is consistent with my observations with some services using more far contractors. In many instances the contractor employees do for the government people, but that is another story.

See table 6 of the report.

Corollary is not necessarily causation, and GAO does not do that type of study nor support any hypothesis testing to say that using contractors is a cause of programs overrunning, costing too much and giving less than contracted performance.

The contractors in question are Advisory and Assistance Services (A&AS) which were not covered in last week’s two GAO posts. A&AS are covered in FAR part 37. The first issue I have with GAO is why they do not comment, as green eyeshade auditors should, about how the program managers buy A&AS as ‘staff’, when according to the FAR A&AS are “non personal services” forms of contracts and even the appearance of an employee relationship is a violation of A&AS contract scope?

Done all the time, excused as level of effort. Not right, but very common.

Note the citation from Table 6 that in the 52 offices reviewed the smallest percent of A&AS personal servants was in ‘program management’ (the non financial/accounting and non technical folks) who ‘paint the lipstick on the pigs’, they advocate rather than deliver a good product: 30% A&AS contractors doing “program management” while in the area of engineering and technical skills 52% were contractors.

The government relies on contractors (to do the analysis for government engineers) for most of the technical determinations and reviews and that is one area where performance issues are glossed over failure ignored and deviations accepted with no analysis on impact on performance and cost. It is very easy to fire an already falsely “hired” A&AS person when they point out that the program manager is wrong (emperor has no clothes) in waiving a performance requirement that will raise cost in the future.

Too much contractor employment, even though they are retired colonels passing through the revolving door, is not good for the effectiveness of our new gold plated, not so functioning weapons.

Failure is not an option, just do it over and pay them over and over. Good thing there is no need for the thing.

This one is by ILSM.