Allegations That Certain Audits at Three Locations Did Not Meet Professional Standards Were Substantiated
GAO-08-857: Published: Jul 22, 2008. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 2008.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) under the Department of Defense (DOD) Comptroller plays a critical role in contractor oversight by providing auditing, accounting, and financial advisory services in connection with DOD and other federal agency contracts and subcontracts. DCAA has elected to follow generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS). These standards provide guidelines to help government auditors maintain competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence in their work. GAO investigated hotline complaints it received related to alleged failures to comply with GAGAS on 14 DCAA audits. Specifically, it was alleged that (1) working papers did not support reported opinions, (2) supervisors dropped findings and changed audit opinions without adequate evidence, and (3) sufficient work was not performed to support audit conclusions and opinions. GAO also investigated issues related to the quality of certain forward pricing reports. GAO investigators interviewed over 50 individuals, reviewed the working papers and related documents for 14 audits issued from 2003 through 2007 by two DCAA field offices, and reviewed documentation on audit issues at a third DCAA office. GAO did not reperform the audits to validate the completeness and accuracy of DCAA's findings. DCAA did not agree with the "totality" of GAO's findings, but it did acknowledge shortcomings with some audits and agreed to take corrective action.
GAO substantiated the allegations. Although DCAA policy states that its audits are performed according to GAGAS, GAO found numerous examples where DCAA failed to comply with GAGAS. For example, contractor officials and the DOD contracting community improperly influenced the audit scope, conclusions, and opinions of three audits--a serious independence issue. At two DCAA locations, GAO found evidence that (1) working papers did not support reported opinions, (2) DCAA supervisors dropped findings and changed audit opinions without adequate evidence for their changes, and (3) sufficient audit work was not performed to support audit opinions and conclusions. GAO also substantiated allegations of inadequate supervision of certain audits at a third DCAA location. Throughout GAO's investigation, auditors at each of the three DCAA locations told us that the limited number of hours approved for their audits directly affected the sufficiency of audit testing. Moreover, during GAO's investigation, DCAA managers took actions against staff at two locations, attempting to intimidate auditors, prevent them from speaking with investigators, and creating a generally abusive work environment.