National Security

Published — December 2, 2010 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Most contract awards posted on Pentagon Website omit key information

Introduction

Most of the contract awards announced each day on the Pentagon’s public website are missing some of the information required about dollar amount, number of bids submitted, and other details, the Government Accountability Office says.

Department of Defense regulations require awards over $3.5 million to be made public the same day the contract is awarded. The rules also require awards of more than $5.5 million to include the value, description of what is being bought, fiscal year funding data, and number of bids received. The daily award announcements published on this Pentagon website are closely monitored by Wall Street investors, contractors, and news reporters.

Pentagon officials who run the announcement website told the GAO they simply reviewed the contract award information submitted by various DOD agencies for style, not accuracy or completeness.

“Every military service and DOD agency that submitted a contract award announcement in August 2010 had at least one submission that did not meet the requirements,” the GAO report said.

The watchdog then took a closer look at a single day — August 6 — and found that 48 of the 50 contracts announced that day failed to include one or more of the required categories of information. “None of the 5 Air Force award announcements included contract type, number of solicitations requested and bids received, or the fiscal year of the funds. None of the 42 Army announcements included the fiscal year of funds. In addition, 2 Army announcements lacked information on the number of bids received and the contracting office, and another did not include the contract type,” the GAO report said.

In response to the report, Shay Assad, director of defense procurement, agreed to instruct all Pentagon agencies to provide complete information that is required on contracts over $5.5 million. He also promised to conduct spot checks to ensure compliance.

FAST FACT: In fiscal 2010, the Pentagon spent $126 billion — 16 percent of its overall budget — for procurement and contract awards.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities. Congressional Research Service reports, which prepared for lawmakers but not made public, were provided by the Center for Democracy and Technology.

FINANCE

* FDIC has a “material weakness” with how it estimates loss-sharing agreements with buyers of assets sold from failed banks, a process that affects losses to the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund. (GAO)

* SEC was lenient last year in punishing Bank of America for concealing big bonuses it paid to Merrill Lynch executives after acquiring the investment firm because Bank of America had received billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money. (OIG)

HEALTH

* The new Medicare Shared Savings Program in 2012 will use “accountable care organizations” that contract with physicians, not insurers, to offer better and cheaper health care. However, it remains unclear whether this model, which is used by Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente, can be widely replicated or if such organizations will lead to more concentration in health providers and hurt efforts to control costs. (Congressional Research Service)

MISC

* The FAA has yet to make key decisions on its plans beyond 2018 for NextGen, a multi-billion overhaul of air traffic control that will use satellite-based navigation. (GAO)

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