GAO Reports Defense Department Barely Moving toward a Comprehensive Service Contracts Database

April 17, 2012

Earlier in April, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the second in a series of new, congressionally mandated reports assessing the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to compile an inventory of service contracts. Congress intends for the Pentagon to include these reviews in its yearly budget work and expects "inherently governmental work" currently performed by private contractors to be brought back "in-house." This review process will help the Pentagon find ways to reduce costs and limit the over-reliance on contractors.

Seventy cents of every contracting dollar spent by the federal government in 2010 was spent by the Pentagon; $371 billion of the $530 billion in federal contract spending was awarded through DOD contracts. Moreover, DOD contracting is continually plagued by stories of $435 hammers, 19 cent washers that cost almost $1 million to ship, and other impossible-to-justify charges.

As a result, Congress has enacted legislation demanding that the Pentagon take steps to improve its acquisition and service contract management systems. In 2008, Congress inserted language into that year's National Defense Authorization Act requiring the Pentagon to compile and review an annual inventory of service contracts, including the collection of key data, such as:

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