TSA contractors performed government-only work, IG concludes

TSA contractors allegedly reviewed contract invoices totaling $265 million

Transportation Security Administration contractors improperly reviewed invoices for work performed by other TSA contractors, and one contractor improperly reviewed its company’s own invoices to TSA, according to a new report from the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General.

The April 15 audit evaluated 13 contracts valued at $609 million in fiscal 2009. The IG alleged in the report that TSA contractors inappropriately performed inherently governmental functions with respect to approximately $265 million worth of service contracts. The IG also found that TSA contracting officers did not follow acquisition guidance, nor did TSA maintain a sufficient number of contracting oversight employees.

“The TSA did not provide adequate management and oversight of acquisitions for support services for transportation security programs,” the report states. “Contractors were performing inherently governmental functions or roles that closely support the performance of inherently governmental functions, acquisition staff did not follow acquisition guidance, and support services contracts contained vague statements of work. This occurred because the agency did not have an adequate number of properly trained core acquisition staff to administer contracts and oversee support services contractors’ performance.”

As a result of the shortcomings, TSA cannot be certain that it is obtaining the best value for taxpayers, the audit concluded.

Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation, contract administration is considered an inherently governmental function that is to be performed only by government employees. TSA’s support services contractors performed contract administration in three of the 13 contracts reviewed.

In those cases, contractors reviewed invoices to determine whether they were reasonable, correctly charged and allowable, and then recommended the invoices for approval and payment. Those contracts totaled $265 million in value in fiscal 2009.

In addition, one of the contractors performed contract support for its own contract, along with reviewing its own invoices, the report states. “When we brought this to the attention of TSA management, they took immediate action to correct the problem,” the IG wrote.

However, TSA officials did not agree with the IG’s contention that contractors were performing inherently governmental or nearly inherently governmental work, the report states. Nonetheless, they did agree to initiate corrective actions to address the problems.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 Reston, VA

As long as the information in these audits is accurate, why doesn't the IG and GAO name the contractors and the specific contracts in their reports? Until some public-facing facts are released, there is no downside to inappropriate and/or illegal activities on the part of both government and industry.

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 Interested Party

It certainly is inappropriate for a contractor to be performing any contract admin. functions on their own employer's contract. That having been said, there is nothing inherently governmental in reviewing invoices for other contracts. As long as an FTE contracting person, presumably a Contracting Officer, is approving the invoices, this is an allowable practice. Having a contractor doing the review is preferrable to not adequately reviewing them at all, which is what would otherwise have happened given the shortage of qualified 1102's.

Fri, Apr 16, 2010 Ray Sharradh

What a shock. Employees of an agency whose employees are matched at a ratio of almost 1:1 by contractors is allowing contractors to pay contractors. This is clearly a case of the foxes keeping an eye on the henhouse while the farmers goes to town. Who the heck is in charge at this agency????

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