GAO: DoD policy for reporting top-secret procurements unclear

Thursday - 1/19/2012, 7:04pm EST

Belva Martin, director of acquisition and sourcing management issues, GAO

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Contracting competition is critical at the Defense Department. But top-secret contracts can, obviously, make competition more challenging.

The Government Accountability Office recently reviewed how the Pentagon used the national-security exception when it awarded contracts without full and open competition. National security only accounts for about 2 percent of such exceptions, according to the GAO report. However the auditors found gaps in procurement data limited their ability to determine a full portrait of DoD use.

GAO chart

Belva Martin, the director of acquisition and sourcing management issues at GAO, joined In Depth with Francis Rose to discuss the findings of the latest report.

Martin discussed the pattern of DoD's use of the national security exception as well as DoD's processes for using it.

The Air Force accounted for most of the national-security exception's use — 74 percent, according to federal procurement data cited by GAO. However, some defense agencies that use the exception, are not required to report it.

The defense secretary has issued guidance exempting three defense intelligence agencies from reporting the data, but "DoD policy on reporting sensitive procurements for other military department programs is not clear," GAO concluded.

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