DOD struggles to count contractors, GAO reports

Pentagon needs better process for counting contractors

As Congress seeks more information on the Defense Department’s service contracts, the DOD officials have to figure out how to accurately determine the number of private-sector employees doing the work, according to a report released this week.

The defense agencies differ in their approaches to reviewing the work performed by contractors and the extent to which they use the inventories to make workforce decisions, according to the Government Accountability Office.

An inventory of service contracts can help DOD officials make decisions about insourcing and their reliance on contractors if it can give an honest assessment.


Related stories:

Use this report well; it'll need some attention

When is a position inherently governmental?


“At this point, the absence of a way forward hinders the achievement of this objective,” the GAO wrote.

GAO officials recommended that DOD draw up a plan on how officials will gather data on manpower. More immediately, DOD should improve how it estimates the number of workers. Defense officials agreed with the recommendations.

DOD relies heavily on contractors to carry out its work, even to the point of supporting core missions. Officials are worried that the government is put at risk if contractors handle key functions. In 2008, Congress told DOD to compile an inventory of service contracts, which includes the number of contractor employees that are working on these contracts and the work they perform.

In November, defense officials released their fiscal 2009 report, a 9,118-page inventory.

Recently, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics gave an interim approach for measuring contractor employees that is similar to that of the Army, which is more advanced than other services in gathering data. The undersecretary hasn't issued new guidance, even though officials said they would release some by August 2010.

About the Author

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

Featured

  • FCW PERSPECTIVES
    sensor network (agsandrew/Shutterstock.com)

    Are agencies really ready for EIS?

    The telecom contract has the potential to reinvent IT infrastructure, but finding the bandwidth to take full advantage could prove difficult.

  • People
    Dave Powner, GAO

    Dave Powner audits the state of federal IT

    The GAO director of information technology issues is leaving government after 16 years. On his way out the door, Dave Powner details how far govtech has come in the past two decades and flags the most critical issues he sees facing federal IT leaders.

  • FCW Illustration.  Original Images: Shutterstock, Airbnb

    Should federal contracting be more like Airbnb?

    Steve Kelman believes a lighter touch and a bit more trust could transform today's compliance culture.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.