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Defense Contract Management Agency: Amid Ongoing Efforts to Rebuild Capacity, Several Factors Present Challenges in Meeting Its Missions

GAO-12-83 Published: Nov 03, 2011. Publicly Released: Nov 03, 2011.
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The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) provides contract administration services for DOD buying activities. Its contract management offices (CMO) work with defense contractors to help ensure that goods and services are delivered on time, at projected cost, and that they meet performance requirements. DCMA also supports combatant commanders during contingency operations. As DCMA recovers from years of significant downsizing, GAO was asked to (1) assess how the agency is positioning itself to meet its missions, (2) determine the extent to which contingency missions affect its oversight domestically, and (3) identify other factors that may affect its domestic missions going forward. GAO reviewed regulations, policies, and guidance, analyzed the status of contractor business systems for 17 defense contractors, and interviewed a wide range of DCMA officials.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should work with DCMA and DCAA to identify and execute options, such as hiring external auditors, to assist in conducting audits of contractor business systems as an interim step until DCAA can build its workforce enough to fulfill this responsibility.
Closed – Not Implemented
DOD concurred with our recommendation, and originally planned to address it through a proposed amendment to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) that would have allowed contractors to demonstrate compliance with DFARS criteria for certain business systems through audits by independent Certified Public Accountants. The proposed amendment was subsequently withdrawn. The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) has undertaken a number of initiatives to try to conduct more business system audits or gain insight into potential deficiencies, including establishing a team of auditors to conduct risk-based audits, reporting business system deficiencies identified during other audits, and investigating ways to leverage contractor internal audit work. However, DCAA reports that it would need to conduct 675 business system audits per year to achieve its goal of being able to audit one business system per year at each major contractor, and its efforts to date have resulted in an average of less than 30 audits per year. Given the time that has passed since our recommendation was made, and the lack of progress in implementation, we are closing this recommendation.
Defense Contract Management Agency The Director of the DCMA should identify ways to accurately and transparently reflect the current status of business systems, such as changing the status of a system to "unassessed" when a system has not been audited within DCAA's time frames.
Closed – Implemented
DCMA has taken the actions necessary to implement this recommendation. DCMA has developed the capability to record information on the status of business systems (e.g., approved, disapproved, not evaluated, not applicable), included the date the system was last reviewed, in DCMA's database known as the Contractor Business Analysis Repository (CBAR). CBAR is intended to provide more timely and accessible information on the status of contractor business systems to DOD buying commands and DCMA personnel. DCMA has also developed the capability to query the information on the status of business systems included in CBAR. For example, DCMA can query the date that systems were last reviewed across contractors and across different types of business systems. As a result of these actions, DCMA has greater transparency into the status of its business systems as well as the capability to look across defense contractors to identify the extent of audit timeliness problems.
Defense Contract Management Agency The Director of the DCMA should clarify for the CMOs the specific plans for how operations and maintenance (O&M) funding is to be provided to enable CMOs to continue supporting new hires brought in under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund and how Emergency Essential (EE) personnel are funded when working at domestic CMOs, given the confusion regarding this issue.
Closed – Implemented
DCMA has taken the actions necessary to implement this recommendation by clarifying for the contract management offices (CMOs) how personnel hired under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund, as well as Emergency Essential personnel, are funded. For example, when communicating the fiscal year 2014 authorized numbers of personnel to the three DCMA regional commands (commands which oversee DCMA's CMOs), DCMA headquarters specified that authorized operations and maintenance (O&M) numbers represent actual growth, and that the numbers of personnel funded via O&M funding versus the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund would be adjusted accordingly. Regarding the confusion about how Emergency Essential personnel are funded, in February 2012 DCMA issued a memo to the CMOs that indicated, among other things, that Emergency Essential personnel are funded through the DCMA Operations Directorate, not through the individual CMOs. In addition, DCMA's manning documents show that the Emergency Essential personnel are not counted in the CMO's authorized personnel numbers.

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Agency missionsContingency operationsContract administrationContract oversightContractsDefense auditsDefense capabilitiesDefense contingency planningDefense cost controlDefense economic analysisDefense operationsDefense procurementDepartment of Defense contractorsBusiness operations