Testing Testing DCAA
Today, The Washington Times and Federal Times provide a point-counterpoint as to how the government should proceed after recent Government Accountability Office and Department of Defense Inspector General reports questioned the quality of the Defense Contract Audit Agency’s (DCAA) audits.
The Washington Times focuses on the solutions considered at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing — looking at whether DCAA is tasked with too many audits, and whether they're sufficiently independent.
In the Federal Times, however, University of Baltimore Law School government contracting Professor Charles Tiefer and adjunct Professor Richard Loeb try to provide more context to the problems at DCAA. For one, they argue, many of the problems at DCAA are a result of acquisition reforms that occurred from the 1990s onward that "relaxed vital laws, regulations and practices in favor of contractors." But more importantly, they write, DCAA is much stronger than these reports suggest:
DCAA continues, in reputation and in fact, to be a tough and independent auditor that does quality oversight on the biggest and potentially the most errant of defense contractors, from KBR in Iraq to the builders of major weapons systems plagued by cost overruns.
As we've noted before, the defense contractor community has actually complained that DCAA is too aggressive in their auditing measures. But they could still use more help, Tiefer and Loeb conclude: "Rather than chastising DCAA, Congress can assist the agency by providing adequate resources, restoring common-sense contracting audit accountability and keeping DCAA strong so that it can vigorously present its side in discussions about contracting policy."
-- Mandy Smithberger