Thin resources stop DoD audits of acquisitions, commercial contracts

Despite pressure from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Defense Department's Inspector General Office has had to suspend a pair of audits evaluating the department's acquisition processes and commercial criteria justifications because of a lack of resources.

The audits of "Service Acquisition Executives Management Oversight and Procurement Authority for Acquisition Programs [and] Commercial Contracting Practices for Procuring Defense Systems ? have been suspended because of audit support for Base Relocation and Closure and other operational priorities," Joseph Schmitz, the Defense Department inspector general, testified last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Airland.

McCain, chairman of the subcommittee, called the hearing to examine the management and oversight of Air Force acquisition programs. He criticized the service for the actions taken since Darleen Druyan, a former Air Force acquisition manager, pleaded guilty last year of conspiring with Boeing Co.'s chief financial officer to help the company win a multibillion-dollar airplane-leasing contract.

"I continue to believe that [Druyan] is not singly responsible for this failure, and fervently hope that both Congress and the department can work together to remove any possibility for future corruption through major acquisition reform," McCain said.

Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Dominguez said the service had completed internal reviews for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program Restructure, Global Positioning System Block IIF Single Prime Initiative contract modification and the Wideband Gap Filler source selection.

"After discussions with Office of the Secretary of Defense staff, we are preparing to refer them to the DOD IG to review the programs and the Air Force's findings," Dominguez testified. "We are doing this to ensure absolute objectivity in the final reviews."

Earlier this month, Michael Wynne, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, announced that DOD had temporarily taken over 21 Air Force projects worth more than $200 billion, many of which have extensive IT components. The projects included the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program Restructure and the Wideband Gap Filler source selection that Dominguez cited.

McCain said the Air Force is not alone in its troubles, and that the entire DOD procurement process must be examined.

Earlier this month, the Army announced it would restructure its $120 billion Future Combat Systems program after McCain questioned whether having Boeing manage the program under other transaction authority instead of a normal procurement contract was the best course of action.

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