By NICK SCHWELLENBACH
As part of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to highlight the importance of open government and freedom of information, POGO is releasing a host records obtained by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Read more about POGO's plans for Sunshine Week here.
The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) sent thousands of requests to hundreds of companies notifying them of problems that should be addressed between July 1, 2009, and July 31, 2011, according to a DCMA database obtained by POGO through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The deficiencies cited by DCMA range from mundane to serious and are ranked accordingly as levels I, II, III, or IV, each one more serious than the last.
The database gives the public some insight into how the government is overseeing the quality of contractors’ work. It can highlight how aggressively the government is pursuing corrective actions and whether or not a contractor might have some problems.
Some basic info on the database
Each entry in the database should, in theory, represent an individual CAR. However, some appear to be duplicative, and DCMA has told POGO in response to follow-up requests related to some individual CARs that some are.
There are 21,620 entries in the database covering 2,299 suppliers (many suppliers are part of the same company). There are 11,909 Level I CARs, 9,606 Level IIs, 103 Level IIIs and 2 Level IVs over the slightly more than two-year period.
The individual suppliers with the most CARs are led by Oshkosh Corporation with 1349 CARs (1022 Level Is, 326 Level IIs, and 1 Level III), closely followed by General Dynamic Land Systems with 1224 (1155 Level Is and 69 Level IIs).
With any of these suppliers, further reporting is required to fully understand the significance of these numbers. The database is a starting point for deeper reporting and oversight.
An example of a corrective action request
Sikorsky’s Stratford, CT division was slapped with a Level III CAR in February 2011, according to the DCMA database, which was preceded by hundreds of lower-level CARs that may not all have been related to the Level III.
Here’s what Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio reported last year:
United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky Aircraft unit has been cited by Pentagon inspectors for a safety part defect, after two failures in four months on new Army and Navy H-60 Black Hawk helicopters, according to officials.
The citation was issued Feb. 24, six days after the second failure of a valve used to control the dispersal of fire extinguishing agents. The first occurred in October. The failures occurred during acceptance testing before delivery, said the Defense Contract Management Agency. A Sikorsky spokesman said the problem's been fixed.
The citation was issued because if the valve doesn't work it "could cause the fire extinguishing system to operate improperly," the DCMA said in an e-mail from Jacqueline Noble, an agency spokeswoman. The part is used on all Army and Navy Black Hawks.
The citation is a warning that remains in effect until Stratford-based Sikorsky demonstrates the problem is fixed, the agency said. A Level III Corrective Action Request is issued to top management "to call attention to a serious nonconformity," especially one involving flight safety, that repeats within a year, said the agency e-mail.
What POGO requested to get the database
POGO used the following language to get the database (and followed up with a second request to get April through July 2011):
Please provide an Excel spreadsheet with logs of Level I, II, III and IV corrective action requests in DCMA's Quality Assurance Corrective Action Request Portlet where the "Nonconformity Discovered" date is between July 1, 2009 and March 31, 2011.
I am not seeking the CARs themselves, rather I am requesting a search of the QA-CAR Portlet and an export of the search results.
I will accept this information with the field "Requester Name" omitted.
Pages 34-36 of this DCMA powerpoint explain how the search can be conducted and the search results exported:
I understand that the portlet can be accessed by DCMA employees at:
Nick Schwellenbach is POGO's Director of Investigations.