Letter: Lack of experienced auditors, inspectors leads to high acquisition workforce turnover

Regarding "Acquisition leaders concerned about eroding workforce"

Good article on the erosion of the acquisition workforce as impacted by not only attrition but overzealous and untrained Government Accountability Office inspectors general and auditors.

As a retired General Services Administration and Defense Department manager with more than 35 years of logistics and acquisition support services experience, including Navy Supply Systems IG experience, I can personally attest to the lack of not only specific but general acquisition experience required by auditors and inspectors to effectively carry out their duties.

The consequence is an obviously flawed process which continues contributing to high attrition of government contracting professionals, along with alienating those younger candidates seeking to make the acquisition profession a career of choice and opportunity. Bottom line is, only a few bright candidates presently consider the government acquisition profession as a career of choice.

While I stand behind efficient and effective government, I further submit that overzealous GAO/IG acquisition-review tactics have also contributed negatively to our current economic downturn by making it more difficult to do business with the government.

Negative impact to both small and large business has been significant over the last four to five years due, in part, to long delay or cancellation in issuance of both commodity and service orders by virtue of the fear factor in issuing the orders themselves.

Acquisition professionals are reluctant to pull the trigger when reviewing and approving orders on even those which are less complex or are of in significant dollar value. This has also contributed significantly to excessive backlogs in review and approval, including anxiety to perform.

This, my fellow acquisition professionals, is not good government.

Bob Gill
Retired, consultant

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Reader comments

Mon, Feb 23, 2009

I agree with the first post. The auditor doesn't make the rules but compares the applicable process against established controls, or even accepted practice, to measure the management control environment. You'll be glad to know that most of the audit shops now orient their teams functionally to build the experience, and the expertise, necessary to successfully audit acquisition and material management. Also, I've learned over the years that many acquisition folks lack training and are overworked/underpaid. In fact, some of our best auditors come from the acquisition field because they quickly figure out that auditing, although equally mundane, pays more.

Mon, Jan 12, 2009 D.C. Consultant D.C.

Are GAO/IG auditors really the culprit? Why shoot the messenger--auditors are just reviewing current conditions against legislation, guidance, requirements and best practices. I have a hard time believing acquisition recruitment is really that difficult due to the “fear factor” of an audit. Let’s get real, no one wants to join acquisition because it's perceived as "paper-pushing" and boring. While I agree that GAO/IG acquisition auditors are far from being acquisition experts, even the GAO auditors, as I can attest (I was one for 6 years) to, don’t want to work on the acquisition audits because they are the most mundane types of audits on the planet!

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