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DCAA Head Emphasizes Quality, not Quantity in Contract Oversight

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A year into his tenure as the director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, Patrick Fitzgerald has already changed DCAA business as usual, Federal News Radio reported.

With Fitzgerald at the helm, the agency has weathered the identity crisis it has undergone recently. As little as a year ago, the agency was criticized for being too chummy with the companies it’s ostensibly supposed to oversee.

More recently, DCAA has been accused of taking too tough of a stance against some contractors.

However, Fitzgerald’s tenure as director of the agency can be summed up under the mantra: quality over quantity.

Rather than examining every single defense contract, Federal News Radio reported, the agency focuses only on the high-risk deals.

And, what Federal News Radio calls a “tightened net,” has actually netted DCAA increased savings, about $3 billion, Fitzgerald said.

“That’s real savings,” he added. “I mean there’s a lot of numbers thrown around sometimes, but these are savings determined by the contracting officer saying that they paid less for goods and services as a result of basing their negotiations on our audit reports.”

While DCAA has hired about 500 auditors in the past two years, Fitzgerald said, once again, the focus has been on quality — as opposed to just sheer numbers.

“To be a really good auditor, you have to be curious,” he said. “You have to ask that follow-on question. You have to kind of look at things and see if you can connect the dots. Does it all make sense?”

Fitzgerald said, going forward, the agency would be focused on company’s business systems, which he said was a “way of trying to sort of get ahead of the curve a little bit.”

Sound business systems — accounting, for example — decrease the odds of issues down the road. But, a recent proposed Defense Department rule on imposing penalties on companies with “faulty business systems” drew the ire of contractors.

And, just last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held hearings on the scope DCAA’s mission for the future.

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