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Highlights

What GAO Found

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has assessed resources that it needs to sustain its contract data system, the Global Acquisition and Assistance System (GLAAS), but the Department of Defense (DOD) has not assessed all resources that it will need to sustain the Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker–Enterprise Suite (SPOT-ES). DOD, the Department of State (State) and USAID use SPOT-ES as a repository of information on contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations; USAID also uses GLAAS to record information about contracts. DOD uses the budget process to identify resources it projects it will need in the next budget year to modernize and operate its systems, but DOD has not updated its life-cycle cost estimate or fully defined and assessed its plans to determine all resources needed to sustain SPOT-ES. For example, DOD has not updated its life-cycle cost estimate since 2010, despite changes to costs due to schedule delays, because officials said the system has proven stable. Also, DOD has not defined some of its plans that involve cost elements that need to be included in the estimate because it accepted the system's previous program management estimates as reported. GAO's Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide states that cost estimates should be current and comprehensive. Without regularly updating life-cycle costs and defining and assessing plans to provide a full accounting for the systems' costs, management will have difficulty planning program resource requirements and making decisions.

DOD has business rules for the entry of contract and contractor personnel data in SPOT—the database component of SPOT-ES—but lacks reasonable assurance that SPOT provides personnel data that are consistently timely and reliable because the department does not use its available mechanisms for assessing contractor performance to track whether contractors enter data in accordance with the business rules. The business rules, DOD guidance, and an applicable Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement clause describe how contractors and contracting officers are to enter data in SPOT. Using existing mechanisms for tracking contractor performance could provide DOD reasonable assurance that contractors have abided by business rules to enter and provide timely and reliable data.

DOD has completed SPOT-ES interoperability testing, but has not fully registered or approved the system's data. DOD Instruction 8320.02 directs heads of DOD components to register authoritative data sources and metadata in DOD's Data Services Environment (DSE), its primary online repository for technical descriptions related to information technology and systems for all authorized users, and provides policy that data will be visible and trusted. GAO found that registration for SPOT-ES data was not completed, although program officials thought they had completed all the steps needed to register the system. Full registration and approval in the DSE would help ensure that data are visible and trusted.

Why GAO Did This Study

SPOT-ES contains data on almost 1 million contractor personnel who have supported DOD, State, and USAID in contingency operations. Also, USAID's GLAAS provides data, such as award value, for reports to Congress on contract support. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 mandated that GAO review the data systems of DOD, State, and USAID related to certain contract support.

This report evaluates the extent to which, among other things, (1) DOD and USAID have assessed resources needed to sustain the systems used to track contracts and contractor personnel; (2) DOD has developed business rules and processes to help ensure the timeliness and reliability of SPOT-ES data; and (3) DOD has completed interoperability testing and registered and approved data for SPOT-ES. GAO reviewed DOD and USAID documents, such as cost schedules, business rules, and user manuals, and interviewed cognizant officials.

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Recommendations

GAO recommends, among other things, that DOD regularly update its lifecycle cost estimate for SPOT-ES to include defining and assessing its plans for SPOT-ES; use mechanisms to track contractor performance of SPOT-ES data entry; and complete SPOT-ES registration in the DSE. DOD concurred with these recommendations, and described planned steps to address them.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to ensure SPOT-ES cost estimates are accurate and comprehensive, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness should, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics direct the system's program office to regularly update its life-cycle cost estimate to include defining and assessing its plans for SPOT-ES.
Closed - Implemented
DOD concurred with our recommendation and reported in August 2018 that life-cycle cost estimates for SPOT-ES are included in Select & Native Programming Data Input System for Information and Technology (SNAP-IT) and the DOD Information Technology Portfolio Repository. These estimates are updated annually, or more frequently if there are changes.
Department of Defense To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to help improve timeliness and reliability of data in SPOT-ES, the Secretary of Defense should direct Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy officials, through the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to ensure that contracting officers use available mechanisms to track contractor performance of SPOT data entry, such as its Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System or other appropriate performance systems or databases.
Closed - Implemented
DOD concurred with our recommendation. In June 2019, WHS provided us with information that it cited as implementing the recommendation. WHS provided documentation that AT&L (now A&S) had developed a mechanism within TOPSS (the reporting module of SPOT-ES). WHS additionally provided documentation of use of this mechanism to track contractor performance of SPOT data entry, such as timeliness in reporting contractor arrival into theater. Therefore, the recommendation can be closed as implemented.
Department of Defense To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to enhance the value of SPOT-ES data, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to fully register SPOT-ES data in the DSE to make data visible and trusted, including taking the necessary steps related to authoritative data sources.
Closed - Not Implemented
DOD concurred with our recommendation. In August 2018, the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness reported that the requirement for registration in the Data Services Environment could not be completed because the capability is not funded by the Defense Information Services Agency and is no longer a DOD enterprise capability. According to officials with the Defense Manpower Data Center, the Data Services Environment was populated with all of the SPOT-ES products. Also, Defense Manpower Data Center officials reported that they worked with Defense Information Systems Agency Working Groups related to DSE on improving the SPOT information through March 2016 when the Defense Information Services Agency issued a memo, dated March 22, 2016, discontinuing service. DOD provided no additional information on whether they are using alternative methods to register SPOT-ES Data.
Department of Defense To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to help ensure that DOD possesses the capability to collect and report statutorily required information and to clarify responsibilities and procedures, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to update SPOT provisions during the process of updating operational contract support guidance.
Open
DOD concurred with our recommendation. In August 2018, the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness reported that an update of DOD Instruction 3020.41 is in progress, and will include updated SPOT provisions. However, as of September 2021, the updated instruction had not been issued and DOD officials stated that they are working to complete its publication. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in this area and the recommendation will remain open at this time.
United States Agency for International Development To help ensure that USAID possesses the capability to collect and report statutorily required information, the Administrator of USAID should issue current and comprehensive guidance regarding data collection on contract support for future contingency operations outside the United States that involve combat operations.
Closed - Implemented
USAID has issued guidance on tracking contractor personnel, as statutorily required in the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013, and as we recommended. Specifically, in June 2017, USAID issued "Data Collection for Contingency Contracting: A Mandatory Reference for ADS 300," to enhance USAID's ability to collect acquisition data related to contingency operations. This guidance identifies the Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Management (AA/M) as responsible for contracting data collection and report creation. Additionally , the guidance identifies eight statutorily required data elements to be collected, including the total number and value of contracts entered into, the total number and value of active contracts, identification of the extent to which contracts were entered into competitively, the total number of contractor personnel recorded in SPOT, contractor personnel performing security functions, and contractor personnel killed or wounded under any USAID contracts.
Department of Defense To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to provide clarity about expectations for the Joint Asset Movement Management System (JAMMS) that can help improve the timeliness and reliability of data for SPOT-ES from JAMMS uploads, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in coordination with the combatant commanders, to develop comprehensive guidance regarding the purpose of JAMMS and its role in supporting plans for different types of missions. Such guidance could include direction on the number and location of JAMMS terminals and how frequently JAMMS's data should be uploaded into SPOT-ES to meet DOD's information needs.
Closed - Implemented
DOD partially concurred with our recommendation. DOD stated that it agreed to provide clarity regarding the purpose and use of JAMMS to improve the timeliness and reliability of JAMMS data, though it did not agree that such guidance could include direction on the number and location of JAMMS terminals and how frequently JAMMS's data should be uploaded into SPOT-ES. DOD stated that it would revise language in DOD Instruction 3020.41, Operational Contract Support, to reflect in policy the requirement to use the entire SPOT Enterprise Suite (SPOT-ES), which includes JAMMS. DOD also stated that the combatant commander should establish the requirements for terminal quantities and locations and for data upload schedules based on operational needs in the relevant theater. We agreed with DOD that the combatant commands need flexibility based on operational requirements. On May 10, 2018, DOD updated the SPOT-ES Business Rules to incorporate the role of JAMMS in maintaining visibility of contractor personnel. In August 2018, the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics & Materiel Readiness reported that an update to DOD Instruction 3020.41 is in progress and will clarify information on the JAMMS capability. However, as of September 2021, the updated instruction had not been issued.. However, the Joint Staff Joint Publication 1-0, Joint Personnel Support, dated 1 December 2020, contains joint mission standards for personnel entering and exiting operations. According to the publication, the standards, at a minimum will direct barcode scanner capability of all service's deployment systems (including JAMMS and SPOT-ES for contractor personnel), and establish policy directing daily data feeds. Also, according to the Joint Publication, the Defense Manpower Data Center has implemented the joint personnel accountability reconciliation and reporting application consisting of a data repository that consumes and reconciles data from existing service deployment systems, the contingency tracking system, and other authoritative sources (e.g., SPOT-ES, JAMMS, Department of Defense Civilian Personnel Database System, Defense Biometric Identification System and Fourth Estate Manpower Tracking System). Finally, according to the Joint Publication, personnel visibility policies will address, at a minimum, policies, procedures, and standards for the collection of personnel data using a service's personnel accountability system and/or JAMMS for activities such as theater operations, intermediate staging bases, and deployment, reception, and redeployment operations. During 2020 and 2021, we discussed JAMMS, among other topics, with Defense Manpower Data Center officials. They told us that, in addition to placing JAMMS workstations throughout theater at high-traffic locations where government services are provided, DOD has also made improvements to the system by enhancing reporting capabilities, and implementing a JAMMS Personnel Location Accountability Check Online application. This application, which scans common access cards, letters of authorization and bar codes, allows DOD the capability to better track the movement and visibility of deployed contractor personnel in theater using a hand held scanner. We believe that the updated version of Joint Publication 1-0, together with actions to institutionalize JAMMS use by DMDC, satisfy the intent of our recommendation.

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