The April issue of National Defense Magazine brought a well-written article by Susan Cassidy and her colleagues at Covington & Burling LLP on a recent DOD IG report analyzing (and criticizing) spare aviation parts pricing, even though the report concluded that the contractor in question had complied with the Truthful Cost or Pricing Data Act. The article addresses the IG’s concept of a fair profit – which is abjectly divorced from reality – and it notes that the GAO has been conducting a study of spare parts purchasing with a promise of recommendations to improve transparency in this area. I commend the article to anyone who operates in the spares market and wants to know where the Government is heading in relation to spares pricing.

With the IG and the GAO injecting themselves – yet again – into the spare parts market and decrying the rapacious contractors who dare to sell at prices that the Government regards as outrageous (after all, why in the world would anyone think that a profit rate in excess of 15% on a firm fixed price contract was reasonable?) it seems like a good time to revisit the reasons why the Government’s periodic complaints about spare parts pricing are generally myopic and wrong. And so, because no criticism of Government contractors ever goes away forever, I offer for your consumption a refresher: the re-publication of a posting that I authored in November 2014, entitled “How Dare You Charge That for a Spare Part!” – The Untold Story of the X27 Interface Assembly” –
Continue Reading Resurrecting the Spare Parts Bogeyman – A Refresher on Why the Government Gets It Wrong

Auditing by the Defense Contract Audit Agency (“DCAA”) is a ubiquitous cost of doing business with the Department of Defense, and one which many defense contractors have come to dread. Unfortunately, far too often the DCAA’s audit reports rely upon faulty evidence and/or unreasonable interpretations that ignore the plain language of contracts, procurement regulations, and existing decisional law. When this happens, contractors typically have no choice but to engage in the costly process of challenging the audit findings and, when contracting officers lack the will to butt heads with the DCAA, to pursue litigation (and incur unallowable costs) to obtain relief from noncompliance determinations that never should have issued in the first place.
Continue Reading Clearly Erroneous Audit Assertion – An Expensive Thorn in Contractors’ Sides

The pricing of spare parts has been a subject of Government criticism for decades.  Pick up any DCAA or IG audit report relating to spare parts or any intra-agency memorandum on the topic and you will sense the dudgeon with which the Government reacts to the prices of those parts.
Continue Reading “How Dare You Charge That for a Spare Part!” – The Untold Story of the X27 Interface Assembly

The Inspector General Act of 1978 aimed to “consolidate existing auditing and investigative resources to more effectively combat fraud, abuse, waste and mismanagement in the programs and operations of [the executive branch].” To fulfill this mandate, the Act created the Offices of Inspector General (“OIG”) in various executive departments and agencies, including the Department of Defense (“DOD”), and authorized them to conduct and supervise audits and investigations to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse. The DOD OIG’s primary investigative weapon has been the subpoena. More recently, however, the DOD OIG has subtly expanded its investigative arsenal by calling upon the Defense Contract Audit Agency (“DCAA”) to step up its fraud inquiries and by conducting more “Quality Assessments” and “Audits” without sounding the warning shot of the subpoena.
Continue Reading OIG Investigations (Without Subpoena Bells and Whistles) Coming to a Program Near You

By Louis Victorino and Jonathan Aronie (originally published in the San Diego Business Journal)

It has been noted, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In the world of Government Contracts Law, however, the more things change, the more the phone rings. And while we’re only a few weeks into 2013, the phone has been ringing off the hook. Here are a few of the reasons why.


Continue Reading What Does 2013 Have In Store for Government Contractors and Their Lawyers?

By David Gallacher 

Last month we wrote about a provision in the proposed 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) that would have given the Defense Contract Audit Agency (“DCAA”) statutory authority to demand a company’s internal audit reports in order to audit the efficacy of a company’s internal business systems. Surprisingly, the authorization, as originally proposed, was modified in the final legislation. While Congress directed DCAA to issue new guidance regarding auditor access to internal audit reports, Congress stopped short of giving DCAA actual authority to demand such reports. As such, contractors will remain at loggerheads with DCAA auditors who try to exceed their statutory authority.


Continue Reading Smash & Grab Redux – Congress Seems to Give DCAA Permission But Forgets to Give It Authority

By David Gallacher 

The Defense Contract Audit Agency (“DCAA”) has long sought access to contractors’ internal audit reports in connection with the routine audit of contractors’ business systems. Contractors have, in most cases, successfully resisted requests for such access on the grounds that DCAA has no statutory authority to request such documents. But that may soon change. Section 843 of the Senate version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254) would grant DCAA broad access to contractor internal audit information.


Continue Reading Smash & Grab – DCAA Poised to Gain Access to Contractor Internal Audit Reports

By David S. Gallacher and Kerry O’Neill

Last April, we wrote about proposed changes to Department of Defense ("DoD") reporting requirements for independent research and development ("IR&D"), raising concerns about how the proposed change would tie recoverability of IR&D costs to new reporting and disclosure requirements. Recently, Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement ("DFARS") 231.205-18(c) was finalized, with changes. See 77 Fed. Reg. 4632 (Jan. 30, 2012). This final rule is a mixed bag that got some things right, but also leaves some of the most serious issues unresolved.


Continue Reading Final Rule for IR&D Reports Fails to Address Most Serious Questions

By David S. Gallacher

Those familiar with Government contracting know at least a little bit about the elusive and fickle regulatory requirements for Independent Research and Development (“IR&D” or “IRAD”) costs. IR&D is a means by which the U.S. Government supports a Contractor’s independent R&D efforts. By reimbursing a Contractor’s independent R&D costs, the Government long has hoped to advance the state of the art without stifling a contractor’s innovation under the weight of a federal bureaucracy, while simultaneously banking on the fact that the U.S. Government also will benefit from the technology advancements. But two recent developments may change the essential nature of IR&D, making it less “independent” and more “dependent” on Government rights and oversight. To quote Bob Dylan – “the times they are a changin’.” 
 


Continue Reading The Times They Are A Changin’ – Independent Research and Development May Not Be So “Independent” Any More

By John W. Chierichella and Ryan E. Roberts

On January 11, 2011, Ronald Youngs, Acting Executive Director, Contracts, Defense Contract Management Agency (“DCMA”), issued Information Memorandum No. 11-108 regarding Forward Pricing Rate Recommendations (“FPRR”). This memorandum implemented a mandate included in the September 14, 2010 memorandum of Ashton B. Carter, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, entitled “Better Buying Power: Guidance for Obtaining Greater Efficiency and Productivity in Defense Spending.” In an attempt to reduce the overlap between DCMA and the Defense Contract Audit Agency (“DCAA”), Mr. Carter directed that “where DCAA has completed an audit of a particular contractor’s [Forward Pricing Rate Proposal (“FPRP”)], DCMA shall adopt the DCAA recommended rates as the Department’s position regarding those rates.”
 


Continue Reading DCMA Updates Forward Pricing Rate Recommendation Policy

By: John W. Chierichella and W. Bruce Shirk

We previously noted DCAA’s hasty implementation of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (“CAFC’s”) decision in Gates v. Raytheon Co., 584 F.3d 1062 (Fed. Cir. 2009), requiring daily compounding of interest on adjustments made to rectify Cost Accounting Standards (“CAS”) noncompliances. DCAA Implements Federal Circuit Decision Requiring Interest Compounded Daily on Adjustments for CAS Noncompliances (June 14, 2010). We say “hasty” because – while noting that its holding was required by Canadian Fur Trappers v. United States, 884 F.2d 563 (Fed. Cir. 1989) – the panel expressed reservations regarding that decision’s validity, commenting that appellee’s (Raytheon’s) arguments “may support the proposition that Canadian Fur Trappers was erroneously decided.” Not surprisingly, Raytheon accepted this implicit invitation to petition for rehearing en banc, and that petition is currently pending. Nonetheless, the FAR Councils are now rushing to mimic DCAA by proposing in equally hasty fashion to extend the holding to overpayments under the Truth in Negotiations Act (“TINA”). 75 Fed. Reg. 57719-57721 (Sept. 22, 2010).
 


Continue Reading Rush To Judgment – FAR Councils Propose Daily Compounding Of Interest For TINA Violations