On September 22, 2016, approximately 150 professionals attended the first annual “Redstone Edge” conference.  The all-day event, held at the Jackson Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is planned to be an annual event, potentially expanding to two days in September 2017 (starting on September 21, 2017).  

The 2016 conference covered a broad range of topics with an impressive variety of presenters representing government agencies, government contractors, and related advisors, including attorneys and consultants/CPAs.

The 2016 topics included the following:

  • Mergers and acquisitions focused on government contractors
  • ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) including the pros and cons of ESOP implementation
  • Trends in contract audits and issues impacting contractor pricing and/or cost recovery
  • DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency); 2016 accomplishments and plans for 2017 and future years (presented by Ken Saccoccia, Deputy Director DCAA)
  • DCMA Cost and Pricing Update (presented by John Shire, Director DCMA Cost and Pricing Center)
  • Small businesses in government contracting including regulatory updates impacting teaming, affiliations and newly expanded/universal 8a program

For those familiar with contract audits (compliance and oversight), the Redstone Edge attendees gained knowledge of the following from DCAA’s Deputy Director:

Incurred Cost Backlog

In Fiscal Year 2016, DCAA was prohibited from performing contract audits for non-DoD agencies (e.g. NASA); however, that prohibition was linked to the so-called incurred cost backlog (FAR 52.216-7(d) annual indirect cost rate proposals or ICPs).  Per Congress, the restriction would apply until DCAA was current (“current” being defined as the equivalent of an 18-month backlog, further defined by DCAA as 1.5 times the number of ICPs received annually). Per Ken Saccoccia, DCAA has achieved currency (less than 18 months’ inventory); however, as of September 22, DCAA did not know if that will eliminate the restriction on performing contract audits for civilian agencies.  

Editor’s comment: In a Memorandum For Regional Directors (16-PPD-008) dated September 30, 2016, DCAA declared victory in the context of achieving currency which will allow DCAA to provide full audit support for non-Defense Agencies.

An interrelated topic was the concern surrounding DCAA’s plan to use audit resources which become available once the incurred cost backlog is at or below 18 months inventory.   Specifically, for the last three years a significant percentage of audit hours/resources have been devoted to reducing the backlog. Achieving a steady state will free-up a significant number of auditors for other types of audits.  DCAA’s Deputy Director made the following suggestions:

Post-Award TINA Compliance Audits

Although DCAA has performed some TINA (Truth-in-Negotiations Act) post-award compliance audits, there is significant risk attributable to DCAA’s diminished role in auditing contractor bid proposals. DCAA envisions expanding the number of these audits to at least 60 annually (more than double the number in recent years); however, even that number will be a relatively small percentage of “covered contracts,” in which case actions selected for audit will be risk-based (determined by government procurement agencies in coordination with DCAA).

Business Systems

DCAA routinely acknowledges that it is not performing business system audits (DFAR 252.242-7005), other than potential system deficiencies identified in other types of audits (e.g. estimating system deficiencies identified in a bid proposal audit).   Newly available audit resources may be directed to these audits, which could then be facilitated by coordinated planning and compliance testing with contractors.   In other words, to some extent DCAA might partially rely on the work of the “auditee” (contractor) to maximize the number of systems which might now be audited on a comprehensive basis.

Contractor Compensation

Historically, DCAA has limited its evaluation of contractor compensation reasonableness (FAR 31.205-6(b)) to either executives or the top five most highly compensated employees (using the ICP supplemental schedule listing the top five).   However, the regulatory requirement for compensation reasonableness extends to all employees, including individuals at the executive level and common groupings of other employees.   Hence, DCAA believes that its success in identifying unreasonable executive compensation could be extended to various levels of contractor employees.  

Editor’s comment:  The single biggest challenge to government contractors is to be responsive to DCAA’s audit inquiry: “How did you determine that your employees’ compensation is reasonable?”   DCAA’s expectation is that you will have benchmarked your compensation practices and amounts to one or more independent surveys; absent contractor benchmarking, DCAA will benchmark for you, using an approach which is biased to yield what is arguably artificially low amounts (lower than contractor compensation, thus amounts which are unreasonable).

DCAA and DCMA participation in conferences such as the Redstone Edge provide attendees with information concerning today’s agency initiatives, but perhaps more importantly, a view into the future.   Obviously, one can be better prepared for that next compliance review or audit if you know it’s coming.   Redstone Government Consulting is focused on just that; helping contractors with today’s issues, but equally important, proactively planning for what comes next.

I would like to receive 2017 Redstone Edge Conference updates

Written by Michael Steen

Mike Steen is a Senior Advisor with Redstone Government Consulting, Inc. and a specialist in complex compliance issues to include major contractor cost accounting & business system regulations, financial compliance, resolution of DCAA audit issues, Cost Accounting Standards application, litigation support, and claims preparation. Prior to joining Redstone Government Consulting, Mike served in a number of capacities with DCAA for over thirty years, and upon his retirement, he was one of the top seven senior executives with DCAA. Mike Served as a Regional Director for two DCAA regions, and during that time was responsible for audits of approximately $25B and 800 employees. In October 2001, he was selected for the Senior Executive Service and in 2006 he received the Presidential Rank Award. During Mike’s tenure with DCAA, he was involved in conducting or managing a variety of compliance audits, to include cost proposals, billing systems, Cost Accounting Standards, claims, defective pricing, and then-evolving programs such as restructuring, financial capability and agreed-upon procedures. He directly supported the government litigation team on significant contract disputes and has prepared and presented various lectures and seminars to DCAA staff and business community leaders. Since joining Redstone Government Consulting in June 2007, Mike has developed and presented training and seminars on Government Contracts Compliance to NCMA, Federal Publications Seminars and various clients. Mike also is a prolific contributor of written articles to government contracting publications, as well as to our own Government Insights Newsletter. Mike also serves as the director of our training service offerings, with responsibilities for preparing and developing course content as well as instructing our seminars to clients and general audiences throughout the U.S. Mike also serves as a faculty instructor for the Federal Publications Seminars organization. Education Mike has a BS Degree in Business Administration from Wichita State University. He is also a graduate of the DCAA Director’s Fellowship Program in Management, and has a Masters Degree in Administration from Central Michigan University. Mr. Steen also completed a number of OPM’s management and executive development courses.

About Redstone GCI

Redstone Government Consultants are a team of the most senior industry veterans and the brightest new talent in the industry. Many have held senior government positions including leadership roles in the DCAA. Our new talents bring significant accounting and software experience along with fresh perspectives, inspiration and energy to our team. Through our leadership and combined experience, we provide a unique perspective, bringing both government and contractor proficiencies to bear and ensuring rock-solid government compliance for our clients.

Topics: Redstone GCI, Government Compliance Training