Sunday, April 7, 2013

Accountability Update: Is Anybody Listening?

Our recent blog post about accountability had some good discussions on the GS-1102 LinkedIn group (closed group) about who actually is responsible for accountability. Should it rest squarely on government? What responsibility does the contractor have when the government is asleep at the switch?
A recent issue seems to have blurred that line, prompting the people responsible for being taxpayer watchdogs to testify incredulously about the lack of concern and the seemingly “sweeping under the rug” of the topic of accountability all together.
John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, recently took the Army Corps of Engineers to task for ineffective management and oversight of work by DynCorp, which is owned by affiliates of New York-based Cerberus Capital Management LP, from responsibility while long-standing deficiencies remained for work on a garrison at Camp Pamir in Kunduz province.
“The Corps’ own internal review says they didn’t make DynCorp pay to fix their shoddy construction, they didn’t collect the liquidated damages that DynCorp owed them, and they violated their own settlement policies,” he said.
“But they still think the settlement was ’proper and reasonable.’” Sopko said. “That wasn’t a settlement, it was a mugging.”
An isolated incident, and a difficult one no doubt, but it is nonetheless disconcerting when an agency seemingly ignores such damming evidence, but decides it is best to sweep it under the rug and move on.
Given the billions that have already evaporated into the sands of Iraq, yet more evidence of how the lack of accountability is hindering progress coming out of Afghanistan is not surprising.
Having performance conversations early and often is the critical component of performance measurement, and then executing lessons learned for continuous improvement. Most, if not all contracts require some rudimentary form of performance measure (i.e. weekly status reports, monthly reports, performance meetings, etc.).
Other than killing trees, what is the point of doing all this if we are not going to mutually benefit and ensure proper outcomes and meeting contractual requirements?