David Isenberg: DynCorp Begs to Differ
This is certainly interesting. If this is true were the Italian carabinieri lying when they told Newsweek that the sights of the AK-47 and M-16 rifles the recruits were using were badly out of line? “Was Lt. Rolando Tommasini lying when he said, “We zeroed all their weapons. It’s a very important thing, but no one had done this in the past. I don’t know why.”
Mr. Rossbach does not say. The simplest way to try to ascertain the truth would be for DynCorp to release the “Detailed records” his email cites. Surely if the charges are false, and I explicitly allowed for that possibility when I wrote “If DynCorp is innocent of the allegations and has fully complied with the terms of its contract and all problems are the result of government mismanagement one would certainly want that known.” it would want to do everything possible to prove that the allegation is indeed false. It is unreasonable for either a private firm or the federal government to expect the billlpayer, the U.S. taxpayer, to operate on a Joe “Trust me” Isuzu basis.
In regard to his second point, the portion of the Newsweek article I quoted said “America has spent more than $6 billion since 2002 in an effort to create an effective Afghan police force, buying weapons, building police academies, and hiring defense contractors to train the recruits–but the program has been a disaster.” It did not say that America has paid DynCorp $6 billion. I am glad to know it has only been $1.2 billion. I do not know whether there is more money that DynCorp is owed by the government for its work on the contract. Perhaps Mr. Rossbach can tell us.
I gladly acknowledge and take his word on the large numbers of trainers and mentors DynCorp is providing as part of its effort to train the Afghan National Police but that wasn’t something the Newsweek article questioned. Rather they questioned the program’s effectiveness, which is a different issue. As any computer beginning science student would tell you input does not equal output. Perhaps both Newsweek and DynCorp are right. The program has been a disaster, but it has been an on or below budget one.
Although there is reason to wonder about the quality of DynCorp International’s bookkeeping. According to a Defense Contract Audit Agency audit “Report on Audit of Labor Hour Billings through Public Voucher 1473-37, under Contract No. S-LMAQM-04-C-0030, Task Order S-AQMPD-05-F-
1473 (Afghanistan)” dated November 27, 2009, made public at last week’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight
We determined DI’s control environment and overall accounting system, policies, and procedures are inadequate. We also consider the billing system to be inadequate in Audit Report No. 3181-2009D11010001 issued April 23, 2009 (see Contractor Organization and Systems section, page 11, for detailed explanation of the billing system internal control deficiencies). In addition, we determined that DI’s compensation system and related internal controls, policies, and procedures are inadequate in Audit Report No. 3181-2008D13020001 issued April 29, 2009. As addressed in Audit Report No. 03181-2007D13010001 issued March 18, 2009, we determined DI’s labor system and related internal controls, policies, and procedures are inadequate.
According to this article Mr. Rossbach said the Nov. 27, 2009 audit was outdated and that “many of the corrective actions were completed.” However, a statement from the audit agency last Friday said “The internal control deficiencies in the audit report are serious and need to be addressed by DynCorp,” the agency stated, adding, “DynCorp is not yet compliant with many of deficiencies cited in the audit report.”
But again there is an easy way to get the truth; release the records. As I am sure Mr. Rossbach is aware every contractor has to keep detailed progress reports as part of the contract’s quality assurance plan. It would be nothing short of marvelous if DynCorp took a bold step — that its fellow firms might follow — and stopped using the “proprietary business information” excuse for not releasing such information. Alternatively, if DynCorp can’t release it because the government refuses to allow it then we can assume the fault lies with the federal government, not DynCorp.
In regard to his third point, “The contract to which you refer from Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) reflects DynCorp’s good standing with that organization, which would be unlikely to award a contract for new work if DynCorp were performing poorly.” I would simply say that have been many examples in both Iraq and Afghanistan of firms either being awarded or re-awarded contracts that they should not have gotten. Anyone remember Custer Battles, for example?
One of the very obvious points made over and over by the Commission on Wartime Contracting is that the U.S. governmental acquisition workforce is not currently up to the task of providing proper oversight on contingency contracting. One has only to look at reports over the years from the Department of Defense Inspector General, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), and Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) for detail. Indeed, a SIGAR report released May 2009 said:
Based on our review of CSTC-A’s oversight of a large training contract, we found that CSTC-A lacks effective contract oversight capabilities. U.S. government agencies are responsible for ensuring that U.S. funds are expended effectively, efficiently, and in accordance with U.S. laws. Although CSTC-A is responsible for the management of the training programs for the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces], it does not have mechanisms necessary to ensure that U.S. funds are managed effectively and spent wisely. Because of its presence in Afghanistan, CSTC-A is in a unique position to play an important role in contract oversight. Moreover, CSTC-A bears responsibility for knowing how program funds are used–it must ensure the funds are used as intended, both to accomplish the mission and to protect the interests of the taxpayer. To do so, CSTC-A staff trained in contractor oversight need to visit sites where the contractor is providing services, and verify that the services are meeting the mission and are consistent with the contract specifications. SIGAR found that this is not happening. CSTC-A has one contracting officer’s technical representative–located in Afghanistan–for contract oversight purposes. However, that official has limited contracting experience and training and has been unable to make field visits to monitor contract performance. Lack of oversight increases the likelihood that training funds may not be used as intended.