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Wounded Contractor

U.S. Government Research & Oversight

Government Accountability Office

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars by auditing agency operations, investigating allegations of illegal and improper activities, and reporting on how well government programs and policies are meeting their objectives. GAO conducts its investigations at the request of congressional committees or subcommittees or as mandated by public laws or committee reports. GAO also undertakes research when asked by the Comptroller General who heads the GAO offices and staff. Under the authority of the Comptroller General and in response to continuing congressional interest in the U.S. government's use of private military and security contractors, the GAO has performed reviews on the contracting, use and oversight of PMSCs by government agencies.

In addition to the reports that appear below, the GAO issues legal decisions, opinions, and reports on "bid protests," challenges to the award or proposed award of a contract by federal government agencies. Bid protest decisions can be found on the GAO website

GAO Reports

2017 GAO Reports

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Author: GAO
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This GAO report looks at the DOD's efforts to contract with so-called non-traditional companies, companies that the DOD does not typically do business with, in order to access technologies that the DOD does not have the funding to create. The purpose of this report is to speak with non-traditional companies and get their thoughts on the DOD contracting process as well as see what the DOD is going to simplify the process. Company complaints included comments on the complexity of DOD’s process, intellectual property rights concerns, unstable budget environment, government-specific contract terms and conditions, long contracting timelines, and inexperienced DOD contracting workforce. The DOD is working on implementing reforms to their process.

Countering ISIS and Its Effects: Key Issues for Oversight

Author: GAO
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This report is the publicly available version of a classified report. It reviews multiple pieces of the fight against ISIS, including Training and Equipping Vetted Iraqi Forces, Training and Equipping Vetted Syrian Opposition, Advising, Assisting, and Enabling Forces in Iraq and Syria, Humanitarian Assistance to Iraqis and Syrians, Governance and Stabilization Assistance to Iraq and Syria, Addressing the Spread of ISIS Internationally, Disrupting ISIS’s Financing, Countering ISIS’s Messaging Efforts, and Mitigating Threats to Homeland Security. As part of this report, the GAO found that an increasing amount of the US efforts to counter ISIS are conducted by contractors.  

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Author: GAO
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This GAO report looks at the Army's contracting processes. Specifically, it assesses how Army leaders have evaluated the effectiveness of contracting operations and the way that organizational changes effect contracting operations. The GAO found that there has not been a consistent pattern of systematic evaluations by Army leaders, and they recommend eight ways to improve the evaluations, namely: developing metrics to assess contracting operations for timeliness, cost savings, and contractor quality; documenting rationales for key decisions; and establishing measurable objectives to assess the effects of organizational changes on contracting operations.

DOD Needs Better Information on Incentive Outcomes

Author: GAO
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This report reviews incentive contracts used by DOD that is intended to improve cost, schedule, and technical performance by contractors working on DOD projects. Mismanaged incentive contracts can create serious, unnecessary costs to taxpayers. The GAO looked at the steps
 DOD has taken to improve its use of incentive 
contracts and evaluates the extent that certain DOD incentive contracts have produced
 desired 
acquisition 
outcomes. The GAO found that some data was collected regarding the efficacy of incentive contracts but they recommend that more effective and complete data be collected. 

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Author: GAO
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GAO is auditing PACOM's use of contractors to provide support to military operations. This report looks at the way PACOM plans for, manages, and oversees contractors. Specifically, the report looks at the way PACOM accounts for personnel and vets foreign vendors, the oversight process in place for contractors, and how well contractors are integrated into the organizational structure. The GAO found serious flaws and had six recommendations to improve the PACOM contractor process. 

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Author: GAO
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Between 2011 and 2015, federal contracts for indefinite periods accounted for a third of all federal contracts.  The Department of Defense uses more indefinite delivery contracts than all other agencies combined.  The GAO is studying the use, role, and contracting process for awarding indefinite period contracts while making no recommendations.  

Contractor Whistleblower Protections Pilot Program: Improvements Needed to Ensure Effective Implementation

Author: GAO
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The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 included a pilot program that expanded the rights of whistleblowers who where contractors at civilian agencies. Namely, these expanded rights dealt with protection from reprisal and added additional people to the list of entities and persons to whom a whistleblower can make a complaint. Through a survey of 14 agencies, the GAO found that some agencies were not passing investigations to the appropriate decisionmakers and some contractors were entirely unaware of the program, despite the program mandating that contractors be informed. 

2016 GAO Reports

DOD Service Acquisition: Improved Use of Available Data Needed to Better Manage and Forecast Service Contract Requirements

Author: GAO
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In 2014, over half of the money DOD spent on contractors went to those who provided services, such as research and development and facility-related services. This GAO report evaluates the spending trends and management of these contracted services. It recommends that Congress consider including contract spending on services outside of the fiscal year, as well as better coordinating efforts to forecast services and fully complying with budget reporting. 

Observations on the Use of Force Management Levels in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria

Author: GAO
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This report conducted by the Government Accountability Office concerns force management levels in U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Force management level is a factor when the U.S. government and Department of Defence draft drawdown plans for their operations. Prior to this report, GAO made 18 recommendations of which 12 were implemented by the DOD. With this report, the GAO recommends further action to address issues. One of the recommendations includes increasing the use of contractors and personnel on temporary duty. 

The contractors and personnel provide essential support to U.S. troops in these countries. Specifically, GAO made four recommendations on this issue to which the DOD concurred with all four and has, thus far, implemented three of them.

DOD Civilian and Contractor Workforces: Additional Cost Savings Data and Efficiencies Plan Are Needed

Author: GAO
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This report addresses whether DOD has demonstrated compliance with FY 2015 workforce management laws in terms of developing an efficiencies plan that achieves savings and cost-effectively manages human capital. GAO found that DOD had not developed and implemented the required plan and had not demonstrated an effective workforce reduction of civilian and contracted services. The report makes no new recommendations but encourages DOD to fully comply with previous recommendations on workforce reduction and efficiency plan development.

Defense Contracting: Complete Historical Data Not Available on Canceled DOD Solicitations

Author: GAO
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The GAO and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) outline standards the government must comply with before canceling a solicitation. The DOD's solicitation cancellation records are not complete, however. The GAO did not list specific recommendations, however, the report describes the standards for canceling a solicitation and the availability of data on canceled DOD solicitations.

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Author: GAO
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This report conducted by the Government Accountability Office concerns issues inherent in the considerable amount of reliance DOD places on external contractors. This report is primarily an overview of previous recommendations and a status update. It finds that 8 of 11 previous recommendations have not yet been acted upon.
2015 GAO Reports

Military Personnel: Army Needs a Requirement for Capturing Data and Clear Guidance on Use of Military for Civilian or Contractor Positions

Author: GAO
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This GAO report concerns the US Army's use of borrowed military personnel to perform tasks previously performed by civilians or contractors in order to mitigate budget uncertainties. The GAO found that the Army lacks sufficient monitoring and evaluation tools to track the use of military personnel in these capacities. Ultimately, the Army does not know the extent to which it borrowed personnel in 2013 and 2014 or to what extent these actions impacted readiness and training. The GAO recommends that the Army implement requirements and guidance policies for the monitoring of these military personnel.

Contractor Personnel Tracking System Needs Better Plans and Guidance

Author: GAO
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In this report, the GAO examines the US Agency for International Development's Global Acquisition Assistance System and the Department of Defense's Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker, both of which are used as repositories of information on contracts and contractor personnel.  The GAO finds that long term planning for the maintenance of the DoD's system is lacking.  Thus, the GAO recommends that the DoD regularly update it's plans for lifecycle costs of its system and track contractor performance of data entry in the system.

Defense Contracts: DOD’s Requests for Information from Contractors to Assess Prices

Author: GAO
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This GAO report addresses what actions the DoD’s has taken to develop guidance and training on determining price reasonableness, and under what circumstances the DoD has requested contractor cost or pricing information for determining price reasonableness. The report finds that officials requested cost data, such as information on the cost of materials or labor, for 6 of the contracts reviewed and requested only pricing information, such as sales invoices, for 6 contracts. For 20 contracts, officials did not request any contractor information to determine price reasonableness.

Civilian and Contractor Workforces: Complete Information Needed to Assess DOD’s Progress for Reductions and Associated Savings

Author: GAO
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As budgets tighten across the federal government, the Department of Defense is looking to improve its strategy and efficiency department-wide, including human resources and contractors. This report examines the DOD's adherence to requirements for savings among civilian workers and contractors between 2012 and 2017. The GAO finds that the DOD failed to address many of these mandatory requirements and while the number of civilian contractors fell in recent years, this did not translate to savings for the department.

Defense Contracting: Observations on Air Force Use of Undefinitized Contract Actions

Author: GAO
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This report details the results of a GAO audit conducted from February to May 2015 concerning undefinitized contract actions (UCA) awarded by the US Air Force. Results show that the Air Force obligated $14 billion in such contracts in fiscal years 2010 through 2014 and the GAO suspects that UCAs are underreported.  Such contracts were justified on the basis of "urgent need" and the GAO raises concerns that the awarding of the contracts fails to meet DOD guidance on the reporting of all contact actions to Congress.

DOD Contract Services: Improvements Made to Planning and Implementation of Fiscal Controls

Author: GAO
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This GAO study examines DoD payments to contractors for services, such as program management support, accounted for more than half of DOD’s $285 billion in total acquisition obligations for fiscal year 2014. The GAO describes the extent to which the DoD has abided by the Congressional mandate that limited DOD’s contract services obligations for fiscal years 2012 through 2014 and required funding reductions of 10 percent per year in 2012 and 2013 for contracts.  the GAO found that the Army, Navy and Air Force implemented a variety of controls over contract services obligations, but experienced varying degrees of success in adhering to their targets.

Defense Contracting: DOD’s Use of Competitive Procedures

Author: GAO
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This GAO report looks into the Department of Defense's use of competition in awarding service and product contracts.  Though competitive processes are required by federal statutes, exceptions are made for situations where only one contractor is available to provide the necessary services.  The GAO finds that in fiscal year 2014 the DOD issued $20.9 billion in one-offer awards, representing 69% of all exceptions to competitive procedures.

Operational Contract Support: Additional Actions Needed to Manage, Account for, and Vet Defense Contractors in Africa

Author: GAO
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Since its inception in 2008, AFRICOM has provided a vital and expanding US presence in a region known for political volatility. This GAO report assess AFRICOM's organizational structure for the management of operational contract support and its ability to account for and vet contractor personnel.  The GAO finds that AFRICOM maintains a structure for operational contract support, but lacks sufficient capacity to vet and manage contractor personnel.

Actions Needed to Enhance the Collection, Integration, and Sharing of Lessons Learned

Author: GAO
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Since 2002, the Department of Defense has spent billions of dollars on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  GAO investigated the extent to which the DoD has used the Joint Lessons Learned Program (JLLP) in planning and integrating contractor-management functions to ensure efficient and effective delivery of services.  GAO found that the DoD did not consistently use the Joint Lessons Learned Information System (JLLIS) to share information across geographies and organizations due to the system's limited functionality.  The report includes several recommendations for the DoD to improve sharing of lessons learned and to improve the JLLIS functionality.

DOD Inventory of Contracted Services: Actions Needed to Help Ensure Inventory Data Are Complete and Accurate

Author: GAO
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DOD performs an annual inventory of its contracted services to identify the total number of contractors and the functions they performed. This report by the GAO analyzes how DOD assessed the contracts in the 2013 inventory and whether DOD used their findings from the inventory for decision-making purposes. GAO found that 35 of 37 DOD components reviewed their inventory as mandated and included a more thorough review, however more attention needs to be paid to contracts that involve services closely related to government functions, among other things. 
2014 GAO Reports

Noncompetitive Contracts Based on Urgency Need Additional Oversight

Author: GAO
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In this report GAO reviews use of the 'unusual and compelling urgency' exception to full and open competition in procurement practices by the Departments of Defense, State and the Agency for International Development during fiscal years 2010 through 2012. While the agencies appear to have made limited use of the exception, GAO reports that the reliability of some of the data it reviewed was questionable. State obligated $335 million over the three-year period in question to guard and protection services at U.S. embassies and other overseas facilities.  

Human Trafficking: Oversight of Contractor's Use of Foreign Workers in High-Risk Environments Needs to Be Strengthened

Author: GAO
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This report looks into the policies concerning the recruitment of foreign workers and the fees workers may pay to gain employment on US government contracts overseas as well as specific agencies' monitoring of contractor efforts to fight trafficking in persons.  The GAO reviews 11 contracts awarded by the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the US Agency for International Development.  The report recommends that agencies develop precise definitions for recruitment fees and ensure that polices are in place to specifically target trafficking in persons.  The DOD agreed to the first recommendation while State and USAID responded that future regulations would prohibit all recruitment fees.  All three agencies concurred with the second recommendation.

Defense Contractors: Additional Actions Needed to Facilitate the Use of DOD's Inventory of Contracted Services

Author: GAO
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In this report, the GAO presents results and recommendations produced from a study of Department of Defense contracts.  The DOD, as the government's largest purchaser of contractor services, was required by Congress in 2008 to compile and review an annual inventory of contracted services and to use the information to make some department-wide decisions.  The GAO was mandated in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 to report on the required inventories. As a result of this years inventory, the GAO recommends that the DOD revise it's inventory guidance to improve the review of contract functions as well as establish a common data system to collect contractor manpower data.

DOD Contract Services: Improved Planning and Implementation of Fiscal Controls Needed

Author: GAO
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This GAO report contains evaluations of spending by the Department of Defense in the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. In FY 2013 alone, the DOD reported spending over $170 billion on contract services such as information technology support and maintenance of military equipment,  The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act limited such spending for 2012 and 2013 and mandated GAO oversight of the required reductions.  This review concludes that the the DOD should improve planning and consistently implement fiscal controls to better manage contracted services.

Federal Subcontracting: Further Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Passthrough Contracts

Author: GAO
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In fiscal year 2013, the Department of Defense, Department of State, and US Agency for International Development, spend a combined $322 billion on goods and services, two thirds of which was awarded to contractors with plans to use subcontractors. These agencies are required to issue guidance and regulations to ensure pass-through contracts are handled appropriately.  The GAO has found that neither USAID nor DOS has provided information to contractors to help them implement new requirements for assessments and documentation.

Diplomatic Security: Overseas Facilities May Face Greater Risks Due to Gaps in Security-Related Activities, Standards, and Policies

Author: GAO
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In this report, GAO found that the Department of State has not fully developed and implemented a risk management policy for overseas facilities. Furthermore, State's risk management activities do not operate as a continuous process or continually incorporate new information. State does not use all available information when establishing threat levels at posts, such as when posts find it necessary to implement measures that exceed security standards. State also lacks processes to re-evaluate the risk to interim and temporary facilities that have been in use longer than anticipated. Without a fully developed risk management policy, State may lack the information needed to make the best security decisions concerning personnel and facilities. To manage risk to overseas work facilities, State conducts a range of ongoing activities, including the setting of security standards. However, GAO identified a number of problems with these activities. Moreover, GAO found that State lacked a fully developed risk management policy to coordinate these activities.

Countering Overseas Threats: Gaps in State Department Management of Security Training May Increase Risk to U.S. Personnel

Author: GAO
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To help safeguard and prepare personnel serving in high-threat countries, the Department of State (State) established a mandatory requirement that specified U.S. personnel under chief-of-mission authority in designated high-threat countries receive Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) training before deploying. FACT training provides instruction in personal security skills necessary for recognizing, avoiding, and responding to potential terrorist and other threat situations. This report examines compliance with the FACT training requirement among civilian personnel employed by State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State’s and USAID’s oversight of personnel’s compliance with the requirement.

2013 GAO Reports

More Detailed Planning and Improved Access to Information Needed to Guide Efforts of Advisor Teams in Afghanistan

Author: GAO
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In this report, GAO reviewed doctrine and guidance, analyzed advisor requirements, reviewed training curricula, and interviewed Army, Marine Corps, theater command, and SFA advisor team officials in the U.S. and Afghanistan. 

It also recommended that theater commanders take steps to work with brigade commanders and advisor teams to identify end states, objectives, and milestones for the development of their ANSF counterpart units in support of the regional commands’ broad goals, and that the Army and Marine Corps improve availability of mission-specific information prior to advisor teams’ deployment.

Key Practices to Effectively Manage Department of Defense Efforts to Promote Security Cooperation

Author: GAO
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In this report, the GAO examines U.S. security assistance missions worldwide, and makes recommendations to improve their effectiveness. GAO notes that clearer goals, better coordination, and sustainability and evaluation would improve results. Although not mentioned specifically in the report, sometimes training or assistance work by DOD is carried out by contractors. 

Continued Management Attention Needed to Enhance Use and Review of DOD’s Inventory of Contracted Services (GAO-13-491)

Author: GAO
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In this report, the GAO assesses the DOD's collection of data on contractor manpower. The GAO determined that the DOD had done some of the data collection but had not adequately gauged the results of their inventory review. In some cases, this meant that contractors and security contractors were performing functions that should be completed by the U.S. government.

Afghanistan: Key Oversight Issues

Author: GAO
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In this report, the GAO analyzes the future of Afghanistan security and contracting as the United States downsizes its forces. The report notes the transition from private security forces to the APPF and the corresponding challenges, including limited operational capabilities due to training, command, and equipment shortages. 

Defense Contracting: Actions Needed to Increase Competition

Author: GAO
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In this report, the GAO examines federal government contracting to determine if the Department of Defense awards contracts on a competitive basis. The report found that DOD has increasingly awarded contracts on a non-competitive basis without always providing adequate information on their eligibility for such a classification. 

Continued Management Attention Needed to Enhance Use and Review of DOD’s Inventory of Contracted Services (GAO-13-491)

Author: GAO
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In this report, the GAO assesses the DOD's collection of data on contractor manpower. The GAO determined that the DOD had done some of the data collection but had not adequately gauged the results of their inventory review. In some cases, this meant that contractors and security contractors were performing functions that should be completed by the U.S. government.

Preliminary Observations on DOD Estimates of Contract Termination Liability

Author: GAO
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In this preliminary report, GAO responds to Section 812 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which mandates GAO to report to the congressional defense committees on the extent to which the Department of Defense (DoD) is considering potential termination liability as a factor entering into and terminating covered contracts and whether DoD assess its relevant acquisition guidance and take appropriate actions to ensure that program managers for major defense acquisition programs (MDAP) are preparing estimates of potential termination liability for covered contracts. To meet the requirement under Section 812, this report describes the results of DOD’s assessment, and presents preliminary observations on termination liability estimates.

2012 GAO Reports

Contingency Contracting: Agency Actions to Address Recommendations by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan (GAO-12-854R)

Author: U.S. GAO
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In response to a congressional request, GAO undertook this report to discover if DOD, State, and USAID had taken or planned actions that align with recommendations made by the Commission on Wartime Contracting. The report finds that the agencies have followed the CWC recommendations one-half to one-third of the time, notable issues of non-compliance were improving monitoring of trafficking in persons by contractors and not enough authority for officials involved in contingency contracting. 

Agencies Are Taking Steps to Improve Data on Contracting but Need to Standardize Reporting (GAO-12-977R)

Author: GAO
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In this report, GAO investigated the Department of State, Defense, and USAID's information gathering capacity for contractors. GAO examined the reliability of the data obtained and compiled by the agencies for the SPOT contractor tracking system. It also checked to see if and how each agency utilized the data to improve their contracting. The report recommends that the agencies work together to better coordinate their information gathering methodology to make SPOT a better tool for contractor data. 

Management and Oversight Improvements Needed in Afghanistan (GAO-12-290)

Author: U.S. GAO
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In this report, the GAO found that the DOD has taken steps to enhance its existing training program for contracting officer’s representatives (CORs). CORs act as the liaisons between the contractor, the contracting officer, and the unit receiving support. However, the GAO found that the required training does not fully prepare CORs to perform their contract oversight duties in contingency areas such as Afghanistan. GAO recommended that DOD enhance the current strategy for managing and overseeing contracts in contingency areas such by developing training standards and standards regarding the number of contracts that CORs can oversee.

Department of Defense Effort to Train Afghan Police Relies on Contractor Personnel to Fill Skill and Resource Gaps (GAO-12-293R)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report describes (1) the roles and responsibilities of U.S. government and contractor personnel in the Afghan National Police (ANP) training program; (2) the extent to which DOD has assessed (a) the advantages and disadvantages of using government or contractor personnel for ANP training and (b) the potential impact of transferring responsibilities for ANP training from contractor to government  personnel; and (3) lessons learned from other DOD foreign police training programs that directly relate to the advantages and disadvantages of using government personnel or contractors.

Further Action Needed to Improve DOD's Insight and Management of Long-term Maintenance Contracts (GAO-12-558)

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The DOD spends billions annually to maintain its weapon systems and, at times, uses long-term maintenance contracts with a potential period of performance of 5 years or more. These contracts may hinder DOD’s ability to incentivize contractors’ performance and control costs. In this report, GAO evaluated (1) the extent to which DOD uses long-term maintenance contracts, (2) DOD’s ability to select alternative maintenance providers, and (3) how these contracts have been structured to incentivize performance and manage cost.

State and DOD Should Ensure Interagency Acquisitions are Effectively Managed and Comply with Fiscal Law (GAO-12-750)

Author: GAO
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After the Department of State had to delegate some of its contract acquisitions to the DOD because it did not have the capacity to handle the process, GAO investigated whether State has since updated its contract capacity. In addition, GAO found that State and DOD did not comply with federal requirements in 12 of 20 acquisitions. 

2011 GAO Reports

Defense Contract Management Agency: Amid Ongoing Efforts to Rebuild Capacity, Several Factors Present Challenges in Meeting Its Missions (GAO-12-83)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) provides contract administration services for DOD buying activities. Its contract management offices (CMO) work with defense contractors to help ensure that goods and services are delivered on time, at projected cost, and that they meet performance requirements. DCMA also supports combatant commanders during contingency operations. As DCMA recovers from years of significant downsizing, GAO was asked to 1) assess how the agency is positioning itself to meet its missions, 2) determine the extent to which contingency missions affect its oversight domestically, and 3) identify other factors that may affect its missions going forward. 

Improved Planning and Management Oversight Needed to Address Challenges with Closing Contracts (GAO-11-891)

Author: U.S. GAO
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Since 2002, DOD obligated at least $166.6 billion on contracts supporting reconstruction and stabilization efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these contingency contracts, in particular those awarded in Iraq, need to be closed. To assess DOD’s efforts to close its Iraq contracts, GAO examined the (1) number of contracts that are eligible for closeout and the extent to which they will be closed within required time frames, (2) steps DOD took to manage the financial risks associated with not closing contracts within required time frames, and (3) extent to which DOD captured and implemented lessons learned from closing its Iraq contracts. GAO reviewed contingency contracting guidance, analyzed contract and closeout data for contracts awarded between fiscal years 2003 and 2010, and interviewed DOD officials from six organizations responsible for awarding or closing out these contracts.  

Opportunities Exist to Improve Equipment Visibility, Contractor Demobilization, and Clarity of Post-2011 DOD Role (GAO-11-774)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and the transition from a U.S. military to a civilian-led presence after December 2011 continued amid an uncertain security and political environment. This report is one in a series of reviews regarding the planning and execution of the drawdown. Specifically, this report assesses the extent to which DOD has planned for, begun to execute, and mitigated risk associated with curtailing unneeded contract services, transitioning expiring contracts, and providing adequate contract oversight and facilitating and supporting the transition to a civilian-led presence in Iraq. GAO examined relevant DOD planning documents, attended drawdown-related conferences, interviewed State officials and DOD officials throughout the chain of command in the United States, Kuwait, and Iraq, and visited several locations in Kuwait and Iraq to observe drawdown operations.

Observations on Actions Needed to Address Systemic Challenges (GAO-11-580)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The DOD obligated about $367 billion in fiscal year 2010 to acquire goods and services to meet its mission and support its operations, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. This GAO report discusses (1) contract management challenges faced by DOD, including those that take on heightened significance in a contingency environment; (2) actions DOD has taken and those needed to address these challenges; and (3) similar challenges State and USAID face. The statement is drawn from GAO’s body of work on DOD contingency contracting, contract management, and workforce, as well as prior reports on State and USAID’s contracting and workforce issues.

Suspension and Debarment: Some Agency Programs Need Greater Attention, and Governmentwide Oversight Could be Improved (GAO-11-739

Author: GAO
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One tool for ensuring that the federal government does not award contracts to irresponsible sources is the use of suspensions and debarments – actions to exclude individuals and firms from receiving contracts. This report from the GAO finds that agencies with staff dedicated to suspensions and debarments used the tool frequently, while those that did not had almost zero uses of the process. The GAO recommends the agencies without sufficient resources placed on the process do so in order to improve oversight of contracts. 

DOD, State, and USAID Cannot Fully Account for Contracts, Assistance Instruments, and Associated Personnel (GAO-11-886)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The Departments of Defense and State and the USAID designated the Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker (SPOT) as their system in 2010 for tracking statutorily required information on contracts, assistance instruments, and associated personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. Amendments from the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2011 now require the agencies to provide this and other information to Congress through annual joint reports. They also direct GAO to review those reports. In response, GAO reviewed the first joint report and assessed the data and data sources used to prepare the report. Among other things, GAO found that the data presented on personnel, including those performing security functions, are of limited reliability because of significant over- and undercounting. Ultimately the GAO found the data flawed, leading it to conclude that the agencies still do not have reliable sources and methods to report on contracts, assistance instruments, and associated personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Actions Needed to Improve DCAA's Access to and Use of Defense Company Internal Audit Reports (GAO-12-88)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) has a critical role in contract oversight. DCAA audits are intended to help provide reasonable assurance that defense company policies for safeguarding assets and complying with contractual requirements are fulfilled. Defense companies also maintain their own internal audit departments to monitor policies, procedures, and business systems related to their government contracts.  GAO was asked to assess the role of defense companies’ internal audit departments and their ability to provide DCAA with information on their internal controls. This report details GAO’s findings on selected defense companies’ adherence to standards for internal audits and the DCAA’s ability to examine internal audits and use information from these audits. 

Diplomatic Security: Expanded Missions and Inadequate Facilities Pose Critical Challenges to Training Efforts (GAO-11-460)

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The U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security’s reliance on contractors has grown to fill critical needs in high-threat posts. In the report, the GAO examined how Diplomatic Security ensures the quality and appropriateness of its training for all personnel. Though not the focus of the report, it does detail the number of contractors employed by Diplomatic Security in 2011: 1,377 private security contractors and 35,150 diplomatic security guards that provide perimeter security to post compounds, as well as residential security.

2010 GAO Reports

Improvements Needed in Managemenf Contractors Supporting Contract and Grant Administration in Iraq and Afghanistan (GAO-10-357)

Author: U.S. GAO
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Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, GAO reviewed the extent to which the Departments of Defense and State and USAID rely on contractors to perform contract and grant administration in Iraq and Afghanistan. GAO analyzed relevant federal and agency policies and agency contract data, and conducted file reviews and interviews for 32 contracts selected for case studies. In one case study, the GAO documents how a private security contractor was assigned a number of responsibilities related to oversight of private security contractors, including monitoring private security contractor activity, documenting and analyzing security incidents, and assisting the government in conducting incident inspections. 

A Cost Comparison of Using State Department Employees versus Contractors for Security Services in Iraq (GAO-10-266R)

Author: U.S. GAO
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In this report, the GAO examined the comparative cost of using civilian employees or military members versus the cost of using contractors, particularly private security contractors, during contingency operations such as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The review focused on the comparison of the State Department's costs to use private security contractors—to perform both personal and static security functions—as opposed to using State Department employees to perform those same functions. 

U.S. Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints (GAO-10-505)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The 2003 Roadmap for Peace process sponsored by the United States and other nations obligates the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Government of Israel to undertake security efforts as a necessary precursor for achieving the long-standing objective of establishing a Palestinian state as part of the two-state solution for peace in the Middle East.  In 2005 the Department of State (State) created the office of the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) to help the parties meet these obligations.  About 28 Dyncorp International contractors assist with USSC training programs in the West Bank and Jordan. In this report, GAO (1) describes the nature and extent of U.S. security assistance to the PA since 2007; (2) assesses State’s efforts to measure the effectiveness of its security assistance; and (3) describes factors that may affect the implementation of U.S. security assistance programs.

DOD Needs to Improve Its Planning for Using Contractors to Support Future Military Operations (GAO-10-472)

Author: U.S. GAO
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Contractors provide a broad range of support to U.S. forces deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, with the number of contractors at times exceeding the number of military personnel in each country. This report examines (1) what progress DOD has made in developing operational contract support annexes for its operation plans, (2) the extent to which contract requirements are included in other sections of operation plans, and (3) DOD’s progress in establishing a long-term capability to include operational contract support requirements in operation plans. GAO reviewed DOD policies, selected operation plans and annexes, and interviewed officials at the combatant commands, the Joint Staff, and Office of the Secretary of Defense.

2009 GAO Reports

Diplomatic Security's Recent Growth Warrants Strategic Review (GAO-10-156)

Author: U.S. GAO
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GAO was asked to assess (1) how Diplomatic Security’s mission has evolved since 1998, (2) how its resources have changed over the last 10 years, and (3) the challenges it faces in conducting its missions.  The report discusses the increase in funds spent on security contractors over time, and estimates that in FY 2008, the State Department had 2,000 private security contractors providing protective services for dignitaries in critical threat environments and 33,491 Diplomatic Security guards providing perimeter security to post compounds, as well as residential security. 

DOD Needs to Develop and Finalize Background Screening and Other Standards for Private Security Contractors (GAO-09-351)

Author: U.S. GAO
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Congressional concerns about the selection, training, equipping, and conduct of personnel performing private security functions in Iraq are reflected in a provision in the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that directs DOD to develop guidance on private security contractors (PSCs). This report examines the extent (1) that DOD and State have developed and implemented policies and procedures to ensure that the backgrounds of PSC employees have been screened and (2) that DOD has developed guidance to implement the provisions of the NDAA and (3) that DOD and State have addressed measures on other issues related to PSC employees in Iraq. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed DOD and State guidance, policies, and contract oversight documentation and interviewed agency and private security industry officials.

Opportunities Exist to Improve DOD's Oversight of Contractor Ethics Programs (GAO-09-591)

Author: U.S. GAO
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Until 2008, ethics programs and practices of defense contractors were self-policed. Given the significant sums spent to acquire goods and services, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) was amended twice starting in December 2007 to first mandate and later amplify contractor ethics program rules. Before FAR changes were finalized in December 2008, Congress required GAO to report in 2009 on the ethics programs of major defense contractors. This report (1) describes the extent that contractors had ethics programs before the finalization of the FAR rules that included practices consistent with standards now required by the FAR and (2) assesses the impact the new FAR rules have on DOD oversight of contractor ethics programs. 

2008 GAO Reports

DOD Needs to Address Contract Oversight and Quality Assurance Issues for Contracts Used to Support Contingency Operations (GAO-08-1087)

Author: U.S. GAO
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In its fiscal year 2007 report, the House Appropriations Committee directed GAO to examine the link between the growth in DOD’s operation and maintenance costs and DOD’s increased reliance on service contracts. In this report the GAO determined (1) the extent to which costs for selected contracts increased and the factors causing the increases, (2) the extent to which DOD provided oversight for selected contracts, and (3) the reasons for DOD’s use of contractors to support contingency operations. 

Defense Logistics: The Army Needs to Implement an Effective Management and Oversight Plan for the Equipment Maintenance Contract in Kuwait (GAO-08-316R)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The GAO investigated the possible increased costs associated with contractor equipment maintenance by the DOD by examining one particular case, Task Order 1. The report finds that since the inception of Task Order 1, the contractor has had difficulties meeting maintenance standards, maintaining an accurate database, and meeting production requirements. A DOD response to the report is provided as an addendum. 

Contingency Contracting: DOD, State, and USAID Continue to Face Challenges in Tracking Contractor Personnel and Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan (GAO-10-1)

Author: U.S. GAO
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In this report, GAO analyzes DOD, State, and USAID data for Iraq and Afghanistan for FY 2008 and the first half of FY 2009 on the (1) status of agency efforts to track information on contracts and contractor personnel; (2) number of contractor personnel; (3) number of killed and wounded contractors; and (4) number and value of contracts and extent to which they were awarded competitively. It includes recommendations by the GAO and comments by the Departments of Defense and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Iraq and Afghanistan: DOD, State, and USAID Face Continued Challenges in Tracking Contracts, Assistance Instruments, and Associated Personnel (GAO-11-1)

Author: U.S. GAO
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In this report, GAO assesses the implementation of the Synchronized Pre-deployment and Operational Tracker (SPOT) and data reported by the three agencies for Afghanistan and Iraq for FY 2009 and the first half of FY 2010 on the (1) number of contractor and assistance personnel, including those providing security; (2) number of personnel killed or wounded; and (3) number and value of contracts and assistance instruments and extent of competition for new awards. It includes comments from USAID.

Afghanistan Security: Lack of Systematic Tracking Raises Significant Accountability Concerns about Weapons Provided to Afghan National Security Forces (GAO-09-267)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The GAO reviewed the procedures and overall accountability of U.S. government and its contractors for tracking weapons to the ANSF. The report finds that failures to record weapon serial numbers, poor inventory systems, and the low capacity of Afghan personnel in charge of weapons all contributed to over 41,000 weapons existing in an unknown location. 

Contingency Contracting: DOD, State, and USAID Contracts and Contractor Personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan (GAO-09-19)

Author: U.S. GAO
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In this report, GAO analyzed DOD, State, and USAID data on contracting activities in Iraq and Afghanistan for fiscal year 2007 and the first half of fiscal year 2008 including (1) the number and value of contracts and the extent they were awarded competitively; (2) the number of contractor personnel, including those performing security functions; and (3) the number of contractor personnel who were killed or wounded. GAO also reviewed the status of the three agencies’ memorandum of understanding related to maintaining data on contracts and contractor personnel.

Afghanistan Security: Further Congressional Action May Be Needed to Ensure Completion of a Detailed Plan to Develop and Sustain Capable Afghan National Security Forces (GAO-08-661)

Author: U.S. GAO
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Since 2002, the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, along with contractor support, has worked to develop the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).  In this report, the GAO analyzed the U.S. plans for the ANSF and examined progress made and challenges faced in developing Afghan security forces. 

DOD Developed Draft Guidance for Operational Contract Support but Has Not Met All Legislative Requirements (GAO-09-114R)

Author: U.S. GAO
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Section 849 of the NDAA FY 2008 directed GAO to review DOD’s joint policies and to determine the extent to which (1) DOD has complied with section 2333 of title 10 of the U.S. Code to develop joint policies for (a) requirements definition, (b) contingency program management, (c) contingency contracting, and (d) training for personnel outside the acquisition workforce; and (2) DOD has implemented these joint policies. This report responds to that congressional direction.

Rebuilding Iraq: DOD and State Department Have Improved Oversight and Coordination of Private Security Contractors in Iraq, But Further Actions Are Needed to Sustain Improvements (GAO-08-966)

Author: U.S. GAO
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In this report, GAO examines the extent to which the Departments of Defense and State have strengthened oversight and coordination of private security contractors in Iraq. It also provides information on the legal framework used to hold private security contractors legally accountable for their actions in Iraq. This report includes comments from the Departments of State and Defense on the report’s recommendations.

Post-Government Employment of Former DOD Officials Needs Greater Transparency (GAO-08-485)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report reviewed some of the revolving door practices of senior acquisition government officials with defense contractors. The report finds potential conflicts of interest in these positions are high, and provides information on how many former DOD employees now work for contractors, as well as identifying practices used to monitor their activities post-DOD. Despite contractor reporting of DOD officials in their employment, the GAO finds that when compared to IRS records, the number of post-DOD officials working with contractors is significantly under-reported. 

Defense Contracting: Army Case Study Delineates Concerns with Use of Contractors as Contract Specialists (GAO-08-360)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report is on a GAO-initiated case study, under the authority of the Comptroller General, at the Army Contracting Agency’s Contracting Center of Excellence (CCE). In it GAO determines (1) the extent to which and why CCE relies on contractor contract specialists, (2) how risks of contractor use are mitigated, (3) how the cost of the contractors compares to that for CCE’s government employees, and (4) whether the contract vehicles were appropriate. It includes recommendations from the GAO and comments from the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration.

1999-2007 GAO Reports

Rebuilding Iraq: Status of DOD's Reconstruction Program (GAO-07-30R)

Author: U.S. GAO
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To help Congress monitor the progress and costs of DOD's reconstruction activities in Iraq, this report discusses (1) the status of DOD-funded construction work and targeted completion dates and (2) the support costs incurred by the design-build contractors in DOD's construction program. Support costs include security and payment to security contractors, which is addressed by the report. 

Iraq Contract Costs: DOD Consideration of Defense Contract Audit Agency’s Findings (GAO-06-1132)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report addresses audit findings of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). Between February 2003 and February 2006 the DCAA identified $2.1 billion in questioned costs and $1.4 billion in unsupported costs on Iraq contracts. Working from this audit, the GAO looked into what actions DOD has taken to address DCAA audit findings, including the extent funds were withheld from contractors. To do this, GAO selected 18 audit reports representing about 50 percent of DCAA’s questioned and unsupported costs on Iraq contracts.

Rebuilding Iraq: Fiscal Year 2003 Contract Award Procedures and Management Challenges (GAO-04-605)

Author: U.S. GAO
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Given widespread congressional interest in ensuring that reconstruction contracts for Iraq are awarded properly and administered effectively, GAO reviewed 25 contract actions that represented about 97 percent of the obligated funds. GAO determined whether agencies had complied with competition requirements in awarding new contracts and issuing task orders and evaluated agencies’ initial efforts in carrying out contract administration tasks.

DOD's Lack of Adherence to Key Contracting Principles on Iraq Oil Contract Put Government Interests at Risk (GAO-07-839)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report concerns a GAO investigation into the Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO) contract given to Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR). In general, the report finds that the failure to negotiate the contract until well after the initiation of services left the government at risk for increased costs. However, because of the delayed negotiations, the DOD paid KBR nearly $221 million in questionable costs that had already been incurred. 

Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed to Improve Use of Private Security Providers (GAO-05-737)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This draft report examines the extent to which (1) U.S. government agencies and contractors have acquired security services from private providers; (2) the U.S. military and private security providers in Iraq have developed a cooperative working relationship; and (3) U.S. government agencies assessed the costs associated with using private security providers on reconstruction contracts.

Military Operations: High-Level DOD Action Needed to Address Long-standing Problems with Management and Oversight of Contractors Supporting Deployed Forces (GAO-07-145)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report was conducted pursuant to the Comptroller General’s statutory authority initiate investigations. The objective was to determine the extent to which the DOD has improved its management and oversight of contractors supporting deployed military forces, with a focus on contractors supporting DOD operations in Iraq and elsewhere in Southwest Asia.

Interagency Contracting: Problems with DOD's and Interior's Orders to Support Military Operations (GAO-05-201)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report is a comprehensive critique of the process by which the Administration hired a private contractor, CACI International, Inc., to interrogate prisoners in Iraq. The contract at issue involves a "Blanket Purchase Agreement" with CACI to provide information technology services to government agencies. This contract had been administered by the Department of Interior since January 2001. When the Army decided that it needed help with interrogations in late 2003 and early 2004, it placed eleven orders worth $66 million for interrogation support under this IT contract. The Department of Interior contracting personnel raised no objections and their office received fees from the Army for processing the orders. According to GAO, the Administration repeatedly violated federal procurement rules when it awarded this interrogation work to CACI. 

DOD Personnel: Inadequate Personnel Security Investigations Pose National Security Risks (GAO/NSIAD-00-12)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report assesses (1) the completeness and timeliness of DOD personnel security investigations, including investigations into contractor personnel; (2) what factors, if any, might be hindering the completeness and timeliness of the investigations; and (3) what actions DOD has taken to address any program weaknesses. It includes comments from the Department of Defense on the report.

Military Operations: Contractors Provide Vital Services to Deployed Forces but Are Not Adequately Addressed in DOD Plans (GAO-03-695)

Author: U.S. GAO
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This report examines three issues related to DOD contractors used overseas: (1) the extent of contractor support for deployed forces and why DOD uses contractors; (2) the extent to which such contractors are considered in DOD planning; and (3) the adequacy of DOD’s guidance and oversight mechanisms in managing overseas contractor’s efficiently.

Background Screenings of Contractor Employees Supporting Deployed Forces May Lack Critical Information, but U.S. Forces Take Steps to Mitigate the Risk Contractors May Pose (GAO-06-999R)

Author: U.S. GAO
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GAO was asked to review the process used to screen contractor employees who support U.S. deployed forces. Specifically, we were asked to determine the ability of DOD and contractors that support deployed forces to conduct comprehensive background screenings of employees and the steps installation commanders have taken to protect their troops. GAO found that DOD and contractors have difficulty conducting comprehensive background screening for U.S. and foreign nationals because of a lack of resources and inaccurate, missing, or inaccessible data. 

Military Operations: The Department of Defense’s Use of Solatia and Condolence Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan (GAO-07-699)

Author: U.S. GAO
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There are a number of ways that the U.S. government provides assistance to Iraqi or Afghan civilians who are killed, injured, or suffer property damage as a result of the actions of U.S. military, civilian and contractor personnel. This report reviews  DOD’s solatia and condolence payment programs in Iraq and Afghanistan focusing on extent to which DOD established guidance for making and documenting such payments; how are commanders making and documenting  condolence payments in Iraq and Afghanistan; and to what extent DOD collects and analyzes solatia and condolence payment data.

Military Operations: DOD's Extensive Use of Logistics Support Contracts Requires Strengthened Oversight (GAO-04-854)

Author: U.S. GAO
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The DOD's extensive use of logistics support across agencies and across continents necessitates effective oversight of the contracts. The GAO reviewed four large contracts of the DOD, in particular the LOGCAP (Logistics Civil Augmentation Program). The GAO found that the DOD did not have enough oversight of large contracts or effective training of monitors, thus the performance and efficient work of contractors cannot be ensured.