Contract Management:

Update on DOD's Purchase of Black Berets

GAO-02-165: Published: Dec 11, 2001. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 2001.

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David E. Cooper
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The Army announced in October 2000 that personnel would begin wearing berets eight months later. To meet the tight deadline for the production of 5 million berets at a cost of about $30 million, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) shortcut normal contracting procedures and waived restrictions that limit military purchases of some items, including clothing, to those produced in the United States or its possessions. Despite these efforts, DLA was unable to meet the Army's deadline, and it terminated three contracts because the contractors did not meet delivery requirements. So far, the Defense Department (DOD) has received about 2.1 million berets--less than 1 million of which were distributed to Army personnel. DOD still expects another 1.6 million berets to be delivered by September 2002. DOD has taken steps to ensure that proposed waivers are considered at an appropriate management level. DOD no longer allows the Under Secretary of Defense or the service secretaries to delegate their authority to approve waivers. Requests for waivers must also be supported by analyses of why alternatives that would not require a waiver were unacceptable.

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