GAO Says Pentagon Uses Faulty Data to Count Military Contractors

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The government’s watchdog has been keeping tabs on the Defense Department’s personnel reporting methods and use of contractors in recent times.

The Government Accountability Office reported on March 21 that the Pentagon does not have a good method to track personnel and operating cost at its headquarters.

GAO issued a report Monday further finding the Pentagon to be using faulty data in determining the number of contractors used in each military branch with the exception of the Army, according to GovExec.

The Pentagon’s contractor data inconsistencies hinder efforts to enforce rules obligating agencies to delegate inherently governmental tasks to federal personnel, GAO said.

Auditors said the Pentagon has not administered an efficient solution to collect data directly from contractors to supply the necessary information for legislative inventory requirements.

The department published a plan to improve its inventory review system in November 2011 but that data will not be available until fiscal year 2016, according to the report.

The GAO said contractor inventory data allows the Pentagon to more accurately decipher what work can be insourced to federal employees.

Military services issued contracts with a total value of $204 billion in fiscal year 2010.

The Army was the only military organization excluded as a result of what GAO auditors said was a accurate contractor monitoring system.

The GAO said the Army uses Contractors Manpower Reporting Application, which aggregates information on labor hours and service functions carried out.

Other military arms relied on the Federal Procurement Data System- Next Generation, which GAO said failed to identify more than one type of service purchased for each contract action.

That system also did not track the number of contractor full-time equivalent personnel and identify the requiring activity, GAO said.

Industry and government leaders discussed the role and number of contractors at a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing March 29.

Stan Soloway, president and chief executive officer of the Professional Services Council, proposed a cost comparison between contracting and federal personnel in order to get an accurate picture of economical and performance value of contractors for federal tasks, GovExec reports.

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