By Nick Schwellenbach
In a March 22 meeting, House Armed Services Committee (HASC) staffers told the Defense Contract Audit Agency's (DCAA) leadership about various contractors' complaints regarding the timeliness of DCAA audits, POGO has learned from a reliable source within the Defense Department.
The staffers wanted to help DCAA defend itself from the contractor complaints, according to this source, who is not authorized to speak on the record and fears retaliation. Timeliness of business system reviews, contract closeout, and forward pricing audits are the major timeliness concerns.
POGO reported on March 16 that a meeting between DCAA Director Patrick Fitzgerald and the HASC staffers was scheduled for the 22nd. At the time, a Defense Department spokeswoman, speaking on behalf of DCAA, told POGO that "we do not have any direct knowledge on the complaints."
DCAA, through its Defense Department spokewoman, did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls over several days requesting a followup comment on the meeting. The HASC spokesman also did not respond to requests for comments.
In the meeting, DCAA agreed to provide a white paper on DCAA's top ten issues and on what the agency has done to mitigate these issues and why, POGO has been told.
POGO continues to keep tabs on the evolving situation at DCAA and are closely monitoring the push and pull of various constituencies—the Pentagon, the contractors, and Congress—on the agency. The agency has significantly changed its behavior since the release of a critical 2008 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, subsequent critical Senate hearings, and a follow-up GAO report in 2009. Contract auditors are often the first to detect and prevent potential contract overbilling and the reach and aggressiveness of DCAA is critical to keeping contractors in check.
Nick Schwellenbach is POGO's Director of Investigations.