Vendors defend DHS contracting practices

Defense contractors, information technology providers and industry observers say they have issues with a new House Government Reform Committee report that criticizes the Homeland Security Department’s procurement methods and contracting practices as being rife with “significant overcharges, wasteful spending and mismanagement.”

Investigators, including the Government Accountability Office, identified 32 DHS contracts that had “major problems in administration or performance.” The department awarded the contracts in the past five years, and they are worth $34.3 billion. But industry officials say the report is overkill.

Bob Guerra, a partner at Guerra Kiviat, said DHS is doing much better than it did when it became operational in March 2003. The department is improving its procurement processes and has a greater level of discipline in the process, Guerra said. “It’s just taken time to get the organization together.”

Scot Edwards, chief marketing officer at GTSI, said that because DHS has combined 22 agencies, it has a broad, overarching influence. “The more they get a handle on things, the better off we’ll all be,” Edwards said, adding that industry tries to see past the problems outlined in the DHS report.

Contractors may be turning a blind eye to the agency’s criticism because DHS has increased spending 189 percent since its creation in response to the 2001 terrorist attacks. In fiscal 2003, DHS awarded 14,000 contracts worth $3.5 billion, according to the report. By fiscal 2005, the department had awarded 63,000 contracts worth $10 billion. That increase was 11 times faster than the remainder of federal discretionary spending, the report states.

“It’s impossible to do everything perfect the first time,” said Mark Zelinger, president and founder of Zelinger Associates, a business development and federal marketing services company. When you quickly put together an agency as diverse and as large as DHS, “you’re going to get some mistakes,” he said.

Zelinger added that DHS has done a remarkably good job in its short existence, despite some evident problems.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the committee’s chairman, said acquisition dysfunction best describes DHS’ procurement processes, and ranking member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said DHS has a pattern of reckless spending.

But Phil Kiviat, a partner at Guerra Kiviat, said the DHS criticism exemplifies the common adversarial relationship between agencies and congressional committees. Such inquiries are common, he added. “If you make progress, it’s not as good as being finished,” he said. “Therefore, it’s [considered] a deficiency.”

At a July 27 hearing called by Davis and Waxman, Michael Sullivan, director of acquisition and sourcing management at GAO, said DHS’ problem is a lack of internal controls and oversight of its procurement processes.

Elaine Duke, chief procurement officer at DHS, cited several steps DHS is taking to fix its procurement problems, including a centralized recruiting system for hiring contracting officers, a request for funding in the fiscal 2007 budget to hire 200 additional procurement officials, and new oversight and management directives.

DHS operates in a rapid acquisition environment, Duke added. “It must prioritize acquisition planning, beyond that generally expected of an agency that does not have emergency response as a primary responsibility, to ensure that decisions are made properly and timely.”

Waxman told reporters after the session that the committee would examine the testimony and possibly call more hearings in the fall to examine specific contracts. He did not say whether the committee would call any contractors.

Click here to enlarge chart (.pdf).

chart

NEXT STORY: Lockheed applies to ASU

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.