In a December 4 2014 memorandum to Chief Acquisition Officers, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) surprisingly admits that the government procurement process requires a shake-up to improve efficiency and reduce administrative burden on both government contracting personnel as well as contractors.
President Obama signed another executive order July 31 2014 which will mandate contractors to disclose prior violations of federal labor laws, the superficial purpose of which is to enable federal procurement process to protect contractor workers and improve integrity of selection of contractors for future awards.
Contractors who have analyzed the proposed rule released July 15, 2014, which places the responsibility on contractors to support the adequacy of certain business systems via utilization of Independent Public Accounting (IPA) CPA organization audits, have mixed reactions to the rules requirements: reactions ranging from total agony due to added and redundant audit oversight plus administrative strife in dealing with those redundancies, to a real opportunity to achieve some control over obtaining a reasonable and objective analysis of their systems the outcomes of which just might be completed timely.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has released its proposed amendments to the Department of Energy Acquisition Regulations (DEAR) which would subject certain DOE contracts to business systems criteria and penalties for failure to maintain adequate internal controls governing those systems. The proposed rule, published on April 1 2014, makes official a DOE FY 2013 promise of implementing formal regulations which would mirror systems requirements already in place for DOD contracts, those systems of which are defined in DFARS 252.242-7005.
The Department of Defense issued a final rule revising the DFARS “Proposal Adequacy Checklist” on January 29, 2014 to eliminate question 19 of that checklist which addresses whether the contractor cost proposal, to which the checklist applies, demonstrates that price analysis of costs for all proposed commercial items was performed. The DOD determined that questions 14 and 17 address price analysis for all proposed materials and subcontracts, commercial or otherwise, therefore making question 19 duplicative and unnecessary.
Government contractors having undergone DCAA incurred cost proposal audits during this past year have learned several important trends and lessons, some of which will likely continue into 2014, and produce added administrative hardships for most contractors. Some initiatives undertaken by DCAA in conjunction with the DCMA may mitigate the level and duration of audit effort and hasten contract close-outs for some contractors. For example, more contractors will most likely be subject to low-risk determination criteria and expand the number of companies who could escape those audits.
With the House of Representatives having passed its version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as well as a federal budget agreement, both of which establish new guidelines and annual ceilings on allowable government contractor executive salaries, the question is what will the Senate do with both agreements when they address those specific revised caps. Moreover, because the House-passed federal budget and the NDAA have different annual compensation caps and contractor personnel to which these caps would be applicable, will these differences be reconciled in final versions of both budget and NDAA agreement?
In what seems to be a never-ending whipping of government contracting agencies for issuing cost reimbursement contracts to contractors, the Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) issued a report citing the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) for circumventing regulations requiring documentation supporting the award of cost reimbursable contracts. The reported findings only cite contracting agency documentation lapses and do not, as with other IG reports on this subject, set forth any factual information or examples that connect the documentation deficiencies to actual government contractor cost overruns or misuse of contract funds.
With a Congressional FY 2014 appropriations bill unlikely to be approved before midnight, September 30, 2013, government agencies and the contractors that perform services for those agencies, particularly the Department of Defense, will be immediately constrained in their ability to continue operations due to the absence of approved funding.
Government contractors who are required to submit certified cost and pricing data as part of a bid proposal face increasingly greater risks of government rejection or award disqualification during pre-award review or even worse, defective pricing allegations after award causing government mandated downward negotiated price adjustments. In today’s government procurement environment where procurement commands and their auditors hold contractors to solicitation and cost analysis provisions with such rigidity, equating to a zero error tolerance during proposal evaluations, contractors must not fail to meet the “certified cost or pricing data” submission or disclosure expectations in the pre-award proposal preparation process as intended within the Truth-in-Negotiations Act (TINA).
Topics: Cost and Pricing and Budgeting