Defense Acquisitions: Improved Management and Oversight Needed to Better Control DOD's Acquisition of Services Page: 2 of 23
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Highlights of GAO-07-832T, a testimony
before the Subcommittee on Defense,
Committee on Appropriations, House of
Why GAO Did This Study
The Department of Defense (DOD)
is relying more and more on
contractors to provide billions of
dollars in services. Congress has
pushed DOD to employ sound
business practices when using the
private sector for services.
This testimony discusses DOD's
(1) increasing reliance on
contractors; (2) efforts to follow
sound business practices when
acquiring services; and (3) actions
to improve its management and
oversight of services.
This testimony is based on GAO's
work spanning several years as
well as recent reports issued by the
While GAO is making no
recommendations in this
testimony, GAO has made
through the years to help improve
DOD's contract management. DOD
has generally concurred with these
recommendations and is taking, or
plans to take, action to improve the
acquisition of services, but much
remains to be done.
Improved Management and Oversight
Needed to Better Control DOD's
Acquisition of Services
What GAO Found
Over the past decade, DOD has increasingly relied on contractors to provide
a range of mission-critical services from operating information technology
systems to providing logistical support on the battlefield. The growth in
spending on services clearly illustrates this point. DOD's obligations on
service contracts, expressed in constant fiscal year 2006 dollars, rose from
$85.1 billion in fiscal year 1996 to more than $151 billion in fiscal year 2006,
a 78 percent increase. While obligations increased, the size of the civilian
workforce decreased. Moreover, DOD carried out this downsizing without
ensuring that it had the requisite skills and competencies needed to manage
and oversee service acquisitions. Overall, our work found that to a large
degree, this growth in spending on services simply happened and was not a
The lack of sound business practices-poorly defined requirements,
inadequate competition, the lack of comprehensive guidance and visibility
on contractors supporting deployed forces, inadequate monitoring of
contractor performance, and inappropriate use of other agencies' contracts
and contracting services-expose DOD to unnecessary risk, waste
resources, and complicate efforts to hold contractors accountable for poor
service acquisition outcomes. For example, DOD awarded contracts for
security guard services supporting 57 domestic bases, 46 of which were done
on an authorized, sole-source basis. The sole-source contracts were awarded
by DOD despite recognizing it was paying about 25 percent more than
previously paid for contracts awarded competitively. Further, the lack of
sufficient surveillance on service contracts placed DOD at risk of being
unable to identify and correct poor contractor performance in a timely
manner and potentially paying too much for the services it receives. Overall,
DOD's management structure and processes overseeing service acquisitions
lacked key elements at the strategic and transactional levels.
DOD has taken some steps to improve its management of services
acquisition, including developing a competency model for its contracting
workforce; issuing policies and guidance to improve its management of
contractors supporting deployed forces and its use of interagency contracts;
and developing an integrated assessment of how best to acquire services.
DOD leadership will be critical for translating this assessment into policy
and, most importantly, effective frontline practices. At this point, DOD does
not know how well its services acquisition processes are working, which
part of its mission can best be met through buying services, and whether it is
obtaining the services it needs while protecting DOD's and the taxpayer's
To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact John P. Hutton
at (202) 512-4841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
United States Government Accountability Office
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Defense Acquisitions: Improved Management and Oversight Needed to Better Control DOD's Acquisition of Services, text, May 10, 2007; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294731/m1/2/: accessed April 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.