Last January, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report entitled “DHS Needs to Strengthen Its Suspension and Debarment Program“. The report was requested by Congressman Bennie Thompson (Mississippi) in 2016. Here’s what the OIG found.
In a bid protest situation, if you don’t respond to the arguments raised by an agency, you might be declared to have abandoned your protest.
Yesterday in Part 1 of this series, we discussed the FAR requirements for overtime approval, the valid purposes and uses of overtime and the considerations that the contracting officer mulls over in deciding whether to approve overtime. If you missed that posting, click here to read. The contracting officer often requests the contract auditor to weigh in on whether to approve overtime and the DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) manual provides auditors with guidance to follow when making recommendations to the contracting officer. This audit guidance is the the subject of this Part 2. If you make a request for overtime approval, you should be prepared to respond to these inquiries.
This is the first of a two-part series on overtime. Today we will discuss the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) requirements for overtime approval. Tomorrow we will discuss the Government’s oversight activities at contractors who incur and charge overtime to the Government.
The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) conducts independent reviews of the procurement function of other Defense agencies and field activities that perform contracting operations. These reviews are designed to assess the effectiveness of the contracting function, analyze and assist in resolving identified problem areas (yes, we’re from the Government and we’re here to help), and identify noteworthy practices that may be beneficial to all organizations. These reviews are called “Procurement Management Reviews” or PMRs.
We tend to focus our blog writings on Federal Government procurement but states, counties, and municipalities and their contractors face pretty much the same contracting challenges as the Feds. In some respects, they face even more challenges since many do not have contracting professionals nor adequate resources for contract oversight. While they’re not buying major weapon systems (we hope), contracted services represent a significant portion of cities’ budgets. Purchasing decisions often rest with a single person with little, if any, internal controls or checks and balances to prevent or deter fraud, waste, or abuse. The vesting of responsibility with just a few individuals and the lack of adequate oversight is why cronyism tends to fester in many localities. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about.
DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) recently updated its incurred cost proposal adequacy checklist. Its available for download here. The fundamental requirements of the annual incurred cost proposal are found in the Allowable Cost and Payment Clause at FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) 52.216-7(d)(2)(iii). There are 15 items listed – numbered (A) through (O) – which correspond to Schedules A through O in DCAA’s Excel Incurred Cost Model. DCAA has taken these 15 items and created a checklist comprised of 47 questions that auditors use while reviewing contractor submissions for adequacy. The Agency has made this checklist public so that contractors can self-assess their proposals prior to submitting them to the Government.
Last November, we learned that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) awarded a $300 million contract to a three-person firm from Whitefish Montana to restore electricity in Puerto Rico. That contract came under suspicion and was quickly terminated. Then, last month, we learned that FEMA awarded a $156 million contract to a one-person firm to provide 30 million emergency meals to Puerto Rico. That contract was terminated within three weeks when it became obvious the contractor had no hope of delivering that quantity.
Back in 2014, a couple of people were chatting while walking around a construction site at Joint Base Charleston. One was overheard saying to the other “someone needs to buy me a car”. Other parts of the overhead conversation included references to monies being deposited into bank accounts. The participants included Barbara Ann Powell, a contracting officer at Joint Base Charleston and Richard Darnell of Residential Construction, a defense contractor performing work on the base under contracts awarded by Powell.
… or rather, “Where’s Beef’s Proposal.
The GAO, citing FAR 52.212-1, has ruled time and time again that it is an offeror’s responsibility to ensure that its proposal is delivered to the proper place at the proper time. There are exceptions to the rule and firms have tried many times to worm their situation into one of the few exceptions but they rarely succeed. Firms have blamed their late proposals on gate security, a malfunctioning internet, or UPS or FedEx failure to deliver on time. But they keep trying to find someone or something to blame.