C-17 Aircraft:

Cost of Spare Parts Higher Than Justified

NSIAD-96-48: Published: Apr 17, 1996. Publicly Released: May 17, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the pricing of certain spare parts for the C-17 aircraft, focusing on those spare parts that experienced significant price increases when McDonnell Douglas decided to produce them in-house rather than purchase them from outside vendors.

GAO found that: (1) GAO's review indicates that the Air Force paid higher prices for spare parts than is justified; (2) for 33 selected spare parts formerly procured under subcontracts, costs are from 4 to 56 times higher after McDonnell Douglas moved the work in-house; (3) for example, McDonnell Douglas paid an outside vendor $389 to machine a door hook that it subsequently machined in-house at its St. Louis Division at an estimated cost of $8,842; (4) costs for some spare parts are higher than justified because McDonnell Douglas used outdated pricing data that overstated its proposed prices; (5) in developing the proposed costs of selected spare parts, McDonnell Douglas used outdated labor variance factors, which resulted in prices being overstated by 34 percent ($117,000) for 37 parts; (6) the profits awarded on some orders under contract-2109 appear higher than warranted; (7) the contracting officer used Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement guidelines to calculate profit objectives and negotiate profit rates with the contractor that are documented in a memorandum of agreement; (8) the contracting officer developed the government's objectives based on the risks of a fixed-price contract; (9) however, most costs were known when the order prices were negotiated; therefore, the contractor's risks were lower than in a fixed-price environment; (10) also, the contracting officer used a higher performance risk factor than appears appropriate when McDonnell Douglas is buying spare parts from subcontractors; and (11) based on profit rates that GAO's calculations suggest could have been justified, McDonnell Douglas would have received less profit. GAO also found that: (1) as GAO discussed its findings with Department of Defense (DOD) officials during GAO's review, they began taking actions to address those findings; (2) for example, the Defense Contract Management Command's Defense Plant Representative Office at McDonnell Douglas calculated that the overpricing of spare parts was $182,000 and recovered that amount from McDonnell Douglas in December 1995; and (3) DOD stated that other actions are being taken to prevent these overpricing problems on other spare parts.

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