Contract Management:

DOD Developed Draft Guidance for Operational Contract Support but Has Not Met All Legislative Requirements

GAO-09-114R: Published: Nov 20, 2008. Publicly Released: Nov 20, 2008.

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The U.S. military has long used contractors to provide supplies and services to deployed U.S. forces as well as for post-conflict support. The Department of Defense's (DOD) use of contractors has grown significantly to the extent that the force in Iraq is composed of approximately 143,000 military personnel and 149,000 DOD contractor personnel. Congress,GAO, and others have frequently reported on or expressed concerns about the long-standing challenges that DOD faces when managing operational contract support. These challenges include a failure to adequately plan for the use of contractors, poorly defined or changing requirements, a lack of deployable contracting personnel with contingency contracting experience, and difficulties in coordinating contracts and contractor management across military services in joint contingency environments. Furthermore, as we have previously reported, DOD has not provided a sufficient number of trained contract oversight and management personnel in contingency operations, and visibility of contracting activities and contractors has been limited. As we have testified, problems associated with DOD's inability to overcome these challenges have resulted in higher costs, schedule delays, unmet goals, and negative operational impacts. To respond to these concerns, Congress enacted an amendment to title 10 of the U.S. Code adding section 2333, which directed the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop joint policies by April 2008 for requirements definition, contingency program management, and contingency contracting during combat and post-conflict operations. In January 2008, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, hereafter referred to as the NDAA FY08, amended section 2333 to add a new subparagraph directing that these joint policies provide for training of military personnel outside the acquisition workforce who are expected to have acquisition responsibilities including oversight of contracts or contractors during combat operations, post-conflict operations and contingency operations. Additionally, NDAA FY08 directed GAO to review DOD's joint policies and determine the extent to which those policies and the implementation of such policies comply with the requirements of section 2333 of title 10 of the U.S. Code. This report responds to congressional direction included in section 849 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (NDAA FY08). Our objectives were to determine the extent to which (1) DOD has complied with section 2333 of title 10 of the U.S. Code to develop joint policies for (a) requirements definition, (b) contingency program management, (c) contingency contracting, and (d) training for personnel outside the acquisition workforce; and (2) DOD has implemented these joint policies.

DOD is revising and developing new joint policies in each of four areas required-- requirements definition, contingency program management, contingency contracting, and training for personnel outside the acquisition workforce; however, these policies were not finalized by April 2008 as required by the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. As of October 1, 2008, the draft policies were not in full compliance with every subparagraph of section 2333 of title 10 and the extent to which the policies comply varies. For example, the law directs DOD to develop joint policies that provide for "a preplanned organizational approach to program management" during combat operations, post-conflict operations, and contingency operations. As of October 1, 2008, none of DOD's draft policies provided guidance on the use of a preplanned organizational approach to program management. According to DOD officials, it is envisioned that the combatant commanders will identify the preplanned organizational approach they intend to use in their planning documents; however, policy will have to be revised to reflect guidance for combatant commanders to include this in their plans. Furthermore, the law directs DOD to assign a senior commissioned officer to act as head of contingency contracting and report to the relevant combatant commander. However, DOD's draft Joint Publication 4-10 does not provide for the assignment of a single head of contracting activity to oversee contracting during all contingencies. Furthermore, DOD has begun to implement aspects of the draft policies in all four required areas. For example, DOD has implemented draft policy that directs the services, military departments, and combatant commands to provide for the integration of contractors and operational acquisition in mission readiness exercises. However, DOD has not fully implemented another training policy that requires the services to provide training to personnel outside the acquisition workforce. Specifically, the Army has developed training, but neither the Air Force nor the Department of the Navy has identified plans or initiatives to develop and provide training for personnel outside the acquisition workforce.

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