Thompson proposes bill to limit contractor award fees

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wants Homeland Security Department officials to make sure contractors do their job before the government pays them bonuses.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) recently introduced a bill (H.R. 6244) that would require DHS to pay a bonus under a cost-plus-award-fee contract only when the company actually meets the specified outcomes in the contract.

The cost-plus contracts are intended to reward contractors for above-average performances in their work. Award fees are based on the government's judgment of the contractor's overall performance.

"Ongoing oversight and review of these programs must continue," Thompson said June 11.

Cost-plus contracts remain controversial with Congress and oversight officials. For example, the Coast Guard's Deepwater program has faced numerous problems in recent years with management and contractor oversight, including awarding bonuses.

However, the Coast Guard intends to use other contracting methods and back away from the award-fee structure, the Government Accountability Office found in 2007.

Meanwhile, GAO also said the Coast Guard has bolstered the criteria for awarding bonuses on the Deepwater program. The Coast Guard now has 24 milestones by which to measure the contractor's performance, it said.

Matthew Weigelt writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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