April 13th, 2010
06:15 PM ET
13 years ago

Government agencies rely on contractors to oversee contractors

Washington (CNN) - It may seem like putting the rooster in charge of the hen house, but the U.S. Departments of Defense and State spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on contracts for work in the United States and oversees, and then spend some more to have contractors - not government employees - oversee those contracts.

The United States Agency for International Development - the federal agency responsible for administering international aid to civilians through State Department guidelines - also hires contractors to oversee its other contracts.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office points out that such arrangements need improved rules.

"The agencies did not fully address risks related to potential conflicts of interest and oversight for contractors performing contract or grant administration functions," the GAO report concluded.

The agencies didn't even know exactly the extent to which they themselves rely on contractors to oversee contracts, GAO investigators concluded.

"DoD, State, and USAID's use of contractors to help administer contracts and grants was substantial," according to the GAO.

The report, which updates a similar study from last year, noted that USAID overlooked problems of conflict of interest defined in its own policies.

"USAID did not always address potential organizational conflicts of interest in its contracts in accordance with agency policy, though ongoing
efforts to revise federal organizational conflict of interest regulations could potentially improve USAID's and other agencies' ability to mitigate this risk in the future."

Because last year's report made recommendations to the DoD about contractors overseeing contractors, this year's report did not make any new recommendations to the DoD. But the authors did make three suggestions to the State Department and USAID:

- Determine the extent to which contractors should perform administration functions for other contracts and grants in accordance with
previously issued guidance.

- Develop guidance to identify approaches that contracting and program officials should take to enhance management oversight when contractors provide services that closely support government functions.

- Before the award contract for such services, require that program and contracting officials document their consideration of related risks
and the steps that have been taken to mitigate such risks.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Contractors, NOT federal employees, are the single biggest true waste of taxpayer money. I used to work for a music store and when they'd get a government project (like repairing instruments for a school) they'd bid twice what they'd bid for any other project from a private person. Why? Because they knew the government would pay it.

    April 13, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  2. LOL

    Whether it be DoD, DoT, FDA, EPA, NIH, IRS, GAO, FBI, DEA, FCC, FAA, SEC............................................ government expansion has gone too far. Its time for less Federal Government, less Taxes and more individual Freedom.

    Time to tell Washington to take a flying leap.

    April 13, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  3. quincy of nashville

    Why are we disgusted but not surprised?

    April 13, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. frank in valparaiso indiana

    I used to work for Computer Sciences Corporation. It has become the 10th largest defense contractor. They are a bunch of crooks. From the top down. The contract I was on, they blew through the annual contract money in 3 months. Then they had some people from the NAVY call the AF to get more money on this contract. They had some political pull. And it goes on and on. Nobody is accountable, there is rampant underpayment of employees. Good luck getting a union (they will fire you), trying to get wages for hours you worked (they make you fill out another time card when you turn one in with the right wages on it.

    They should all be shut down. If its not a contract to build something, hire a government employee. Much cheaper in the long run. No waste, no shareholders wanting more profit.

    April 13, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. rob

    I guess the govt should take controll of the contractors. We can make sure that its all being done right and make sure private companies don't make those hated profits they make when they take risks and go into business and pay taxes, then hire people to work for them who in turn pay taxes and buy products that help grow our economy.

    Wait for the hearings in Congress and the dems proposals to stop this run-away free market capitalism.

    April 13, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  6. Mickey, NY

    Want to help lower the deficit while helping to balance the budget? Get rid of these bloodsucking douchebags once and for all. We all know what happened with those criminals from Blackwater.

    April 13, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  7. Adalbert

    It looks like the blind is leading the blind.

    April 13, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. Dennis

    I have a great idea, just give all of OUR money to BLACKWATER and let them do it.

    April 13, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Cheney/Haliburton have been doing this for years and getting away with it while they line their pockets with your money.

    April 13, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  10. Angus McDugan

    Talk about an area in need of reform.

    April 13, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. WrongKindofChange

    No wonder we are so far in debt as a country. Our goverment spends money faster than it can print it.

    April 13, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  12. bennie new york

    Obama, if you're looking for wasteful spending to cut, look no further!

    April 13, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. JES

    Isn't that like the fox guarding the hen house.

    When will our Government ever learn.

    April 13, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. dave denver

    That's probably because we don't have enough federal employees. OH WAIT, that's the fastest growing employment group in the country. Then maybe it's because they don't have the right expertise, I'm pretty sure that's it because the SEIU doesn't really have members that care about ACCOUNTABILITY or they won't belong to SEIU in the first place.

    I just wish we could outsource the entire government, at that point, the whole process would be on hold somewhere in India and at least they couldn't screw more things up even more.

    April 13, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |