GAO: DOD Lacks Information on Acquisition Workforce
President Obama said Tuesday night that his administration will soon unveil plans to overhaul the Defense Department's procurement process, but a new report suggests it could have a hard time figuring it all out.
The department "does not collect or track information on contractor personnel" and "lacks information on why contractor personnel are used," according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. The lack of information "limits its ability to determine whether decisions to use contractors to augment the in-house acquisition workforce are appropriate," suggesting the Obama administration won't have the basic information necessary to unwind DOD's procurement process.
"I think everybody in this town knows that the politics of changing procurement is tough, because, you know, lobbyists are very active in this area," Obama said in his prime-time press conference Tuesday. "You know, contractors are very good at dispersing the jobs and plants in the Defense Department widely."
Difficulty track the people responsible for tasks including setting the price on everything from Space shuttle parts to water systems for combat zones will complicate the administration's ability to reform DOD's procurement process.
More than 126,000 civilian and military personnel worked for DOD's acquisition workforce in fiscal year 2007, according to the report. Civilians accounted for 89 percent of the total. The department's acquisition staff accounts for more than 70 percent of the federal government's total acquisition workforce.
The report recommends that Defense Secretary Robert Gates set up a better system to track and evaluate contract personnel. He should get regular updates on the department's entire acquisition workforce -- civilian, military and contractors -- and revise the criteria for when it's appropriate for the department to use contractors, according to the report.
In a response, DOD concurred with the report's findings, and investigators noted that the department has taken steps in improve its management and oversight in this area, thanks mostly to pressure from lawmakers.
| March 26, 2009; 6:14 AM ET
Categories: Administration, Agencies and Departments
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