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Project on Government Oversight

POGO Reacts to Senate Hearing on Defense Oversight Agency

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September 11, 2008

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a textbook model oversight hearing yesterday on the topic of "Expediency Versus Integrity: Do Assembly-Line Audits at the Defense Contract Audit Agency Waste Taxpayer Dollars?" The DCAA has come under intense scrutiny lately following the release of a GAO report that questioned the independence of DCAA auditors. The GAO's findings were corroborated by several auditors who spoke to Federal Times this week. As Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) pointed out, this was exactly the kind of hearing the Committee was created to hold.

After the GAO's Gregory Kutz testified, the whistleblower witnesses were very compelling as they described the retaliation they suffered for sticking to their guns and not buckling under pressure to limit negative audit findings when scrubbing government contract numbers.

The three Senators--Lieberman, Susan Collins (R-ME), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO)--all asked serious, probing questions, not only about the specific instances uncovered by the GAO's investigation, but also about the larger context that allowed this all to happen.

"Who was your customer?" was the question repeatedly asked of the auditors by the Senators. The answer was always "the contracting officer" or "the program office," but never the taxpayer.

The devastation wreaked upon the government through the "reinventing government" juggernaut of the '90s is showing its ugly legacy in the push to make the DCAA focus on finishing their audits quickly and making their "customer" happy, rather than saving the taxpayer money.

DCAA Director April Stephenson promised the Committee that she was committed to changing the metrics currently used by the DCAA to measure performance, since the metrics are all about speed and customer satisfaction and not about saving the taxpayer money.
 

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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