DOD Components Are Not Sending Required Information on Contract Awards to the Office of Public Affairs
GAO-11-122R: Published: Nov 30, 2010. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 2010.
During the course of a recent engagement reviewing noncompetitive contracting, we found that departments and agencies in the Department of Defense (DOD) are not submitting complete information, as required, to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (OASD[PA]), which then posts the information on its Web site as a public announcement. President Obama has emphasized transparency and openness in how the government spends taxpayer dollars. We are bringing this issue to the attention of the Defense Department's Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy due to its responsibility for acquisition and procurement policy matters in DOD. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires contracting officers to make information on a contract action over a certain dollar amount publicly available on the same day the contract is awarded. The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) further specifies that for contract actions over $5.5 million, departments and agencies are to submit certain information to the OASD(PA) by the close of business the day before the date of the proposed award, including, "as a minimum" (1) contract data, for example, contract number, face value of the action and total cumulative face value of the contract, description of what is being bought, and contract type; (2) competition information, including number of solicitations mailed and number of bids received; (3) contractor data, such as name and place of performance; (4) funding data which include type of appropriation, fiscal year of the funds, and whether the contract is multiyear; and (5) miscellaneous data, such as the identification of the contracting office. According to officials at the OASD(PA), their practice is to post on their Web site the information they receive from the departments and agencies, making only minor editorial changes for style. They explained that the press, investors, and contractors all have an interest in DOD's contract awards and closely monitor the daily postings.
Our analysis revealed a pattern of contract award announcements that lacked the information required to be submitted to the OASD(PA) for one or more categories. Every military service and DOD agency that submitted a contract award announcement in August 2010 had at least one submission that did not meet the requirements. On the basis of this observation, we conducted a more detailed analysis of all 50 contract action announcements posted to the OASD(PA) Web site on August 6, 2010. We found that 48 of the announcements posted on August 6, 2010, or 96 percent, did not include one or more of the five specific categories of information. For example, none of the 5 Air Force award announcements included contract type, number of solicitations requested and bids received, or the fiscal year of the funds. None of the 42 Army announcements included the fiscal year of funds. In addition, 2 Army announcements lacked information on the number of bids received and the contracting office, and another did not include the contract type. The 3 Navy announcements on that day, however, generally included the five categories, with only 1 entry missing competition information. While the OASD(PA) processes the contract award announcements submitted from DOD agencies and the military services, OASD(PA) officials told us that, since OASD(PA) is a reporting and not a regulatory office, they only review the submissions for style and rely on each service or agency to ensure that the information submitted is correct and compliant with appropriate regulations. In not providing OASD(PA) with complete information on contract awards, DOD's departments and agencies are not complying with DFARS requirements. Without this information, OASD(PA) is not able to provide full transparency to the public on DOD's contract awards.
Recommendation for Executive Action
Status: Closed - Implemented
Comments: In July 2011 and April 2013, DOD's Defense Acquisition and Procurement Policy (DPAP) office issued memoranda reminding all military departments and defense agencies to provide all of the information required under Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 205.303 to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (OASD(PA)) for applicable contract award announcements. In the July 2011 memorandum, DPAP stated that the office would conduct periodic checks of the contract award announcements on the OASD(PA) website to verify the required information is being provided. DPAP has since conducted three such annual analyses of contract award announcements, which showed a significant improvement in the military departments' and defense agencies' reporting of the required DFARS information over time. DPAP's latest assessment showed only 15 percent of the announcements missing one of the required elements in the announcements. GAO's own recent analysis of the public contract award announcements posted on the OASD(PA) website similarly found a significant improvement in the required reporting, with only 14 percent of the announcements missing a required piece of information.
Recommendation: The Director, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, should instruct the departments and agencies to provide complete information on contract announcements over $5.5 million to the OASD(PA), consistent with DFARS requirements.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics: Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy