The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has released a report, requested by members of Congress, on the operation of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA). The subtitle of the report tells the tale: Amid Ongoing Efforts to Rebuild Capacity, Several Factors Present Challenges in Meeting Its Missions.
Defense contract management policy varies with the whims of each administration and of Congress. Decentralization in the mid 2000’s had reduced the agency’s workforce to 9,300. Recent changes and moves to centralization have allowed the agency to grow. Projections are that the civilian workforce will reach 13,400 by 2015. Approximately 600 military personnel are typically assigned to DCMA.
The GAO noted that deployment of personnel overseas has created more problems than the numbers alone would suggest. Such contingency missions involve some 272 employees. The report suggests a certain agency inflexibility that results in delays in agency activities due to the absence of these employees. It also hints at the unpopularity of such deployments.
The report challenges the reliance of the DCMA upon the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) for certain contractor systems audits. DCAA has its own manpower issues and policy changes are moving the responsibility for some of this work to the DCMA. The report notes a significant issue growing out of this change.
DCMA told the GAO that it plans to hire analysts to perform the audits that now fall within its purview. DCMA is also planning to increase the numbers in its supply management specialist workforce in order to focus more attention on supply chain risks to prime contractors. Officials at the CMO level expressed concerns to the GAO about continuing funding for new hires. Senior agency management acknowledges the need for clearer communications throughout the agency.
The continued growth of the Defense Contract Management Agency is assumed throughout the report. Potential cuts, via legislation or by other means are not considered. Based on this report, DCMA will continue to hire analysts and specialists for several years to fill its staffing needs.
Charles Simmins brings thirty years of accounting and management experience to his coverage of the news. An upstate New Yorker, he is a free lance journalist, former volunteer firefighter and EMT, and is owned by a wife and four cats.