Who is minding this store?
by reader ilsm
GAO 08-572T Testimony has an interesting observation which needs thinking about.
There are good reasons that this testimony and the testimony in 621T are not supported by released GAO studies. Those being the investigators would likely need to call in the guys with gold badges, and government officers would go to jail.
Page 11, “Contractors are generally not subject to the same ethics rules as government employees even when they are collocated and work side by side with federal employees and perform similar functions.” The paragraph goes on to observe that contractors can unethically influence government decisions. That is true especially when there are no government personnel who understand what the contractors do, nor can adequately evaluate their “work”.
This leaves the DoD acquisition system open to significant scrap and rework which is observed by GAO each year.
The contractors are not the only cause but they pose a significant contribution to the waste and abuse within DoD acquisition.
Worse, the GAO reports quoted above imply, and my experience supports the fact that support contractors are not replacing government employees doing commercial activities but the contractors are doing near governmental functions. Further, working side by side doing similar tasks implies a personal services relationship which is not in the scope of any services contract I know of.
GAO 08-621T observed that on average 45% of program offices surveyed are wrongly manned by contractors and it did not state the fact that many of those contractors are the technical side of the program management office. The program staff needs government contracting personnel with their warrant, but their warrants demand no concern for technical achievement or quality work. The warrants are for paying the bills and do not ask if the work is right. The support contractors pencil whip technical reports so they keep their jobs and the warranted personnel can feel secure in writing the acceptance and paying the bill.
The 45% contractors are heavily set in the quality assurance part and their lack of ethics there driven by the “conspiracy of hope” (that no one goes to jail, working fine so far) on the part of the 55% government personnel drives the waste and fraud in the defense acquisition system.
The taxpayer and the soldier would be better off if the 45% of program management office contractors were given pen knives and sent off to whittle beaks.
This one by ilsm