The Pentagon's own watchdog is warning that defense contracts are potential problems, just as the national political debate swirls around the possibility of shrinking the military and its high-priced weapons.
"DoD (Department of Defense) continues to be vulnerable to increased fraud, waste, and mismanagement of taxpayer monies, and the area of contract management remains a high risk area," a new report from the Defense Department inspector general says.
The inspector general's 2012 audit plan was released on Thursday and notes that last year the Defense Department spent more than $367 billion on contracts for goods and services.
"Despite the billions spent, requirements were frequently not well-defined, and the contracting arrangements were often not the most appropriate for ensuring the efficient and effective use of DoD resources," the inspector general report says. And it takes aim at the department's internal controls and the people in charge.
"Contract oversight responsibility fell on an acquisition workforce that was not properly sized or sufficiently trained and did not possess the experience necessary to manage the complexities of these DoD acquisitions," the report says.
And it signals that the higher-spending projects will receive higher scrutiny.
"The number of Major Defense Acquisition Programs, 111 in (fiscal year) 2011, increased despite a flat or slowly decreasing Defense budget," the report says. "Major weapon acquisition programs continue to remain a high priority with the DoD (inspector general) and Congress because a number of high profile programs are over cost and behind schedule."