GAO: Soaring Use Of Contractors Puts DoD At Risk Of Fraud, Waste
Pentagon spending on goods and services has doubled to $388 billion since 2001, while the defense workforce has remained almost flat, an imbalance that has put "acquisitions at an increased risk of poor outcomes and vulnerability to fraud, waste, and abuse," according to the Government Accountability Office.
The risks come in part from the fact that the Pentagon has no idea, really, exactly whom it has retained, what they can do and what they do for the government. That's in sharp contrast to personnel practices at other "leading organizations," the GAO said.
"GAO found that program office decisions to use contractor personnel are often driven by factors such as quicker hiring time frames and civilian staffing limits, rather than by the nature or criticality of the work," John Needham, GAO director Acquisition and Sourcing Management, said in testimony before Congress. "In comparison with DOD's practices, leading organizations maintain and analyze data on their contractor personnel and take a business-oriented approach to determining when to use contractor support."
But wait, there's more.
"In addition to lacking information on contractor personnel, DOD lacks complete
information on the skill sets of its in-house personnel. DOD also lacks information on the acquisition workforce it needs to meet its mission. Not having this information not only skews analyses of workforce gaps, but also limits DOD's ability to make informed workforce allocation decisions and determine whether the total acquisition workforce--in-house and contractor personnel--is sufficient to accomplish its mission."
As you probably know, the Pentagon has embarked on some modest reforms, including converting several thousand contractor jobs into civil servant positions. But the GAO noted that reforms may not take root if officials don't really know where the gaps are, what people are already doing and what more needs to be done.
Is all of this any surprise? The use of contract personnel has become so routine in recent years. Sometimes it seems as though contractors run certain shops.
Is this a good thing? Please let us know what you think.
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