“Acquisition oversight is a priority of my office,” Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner recently said to members of Congress.
Like other government agencies, the department is spending more funds on the procurement of goods and services. Meanwhile, contract specialists who are needed to monitor these activities to prevent waste, fraud and abuse are harder to find.
Just as agency procurement offices across the government face a shortage of experienced staff, so do offices of the government’s inspector generals, Skinner told an ad hoc Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on contracting oversight.
“We need a mix of auditors, inspectors and investigators with acquisition experience. Unfortunately, we compete for these resources with the very same offices for which we have oversight responsibilities.”
With a pressing need to spend DHS’ portion of the $787 billion in Recovery Act funds, the requirement to monitor the department’s spending will only increase, he noted.
Skinner asked lawmakers to change statutes that do not require subcontractors to make their employees and records available to inspector generals’ staffs.
Government Accountability Office investigators have access to subcontractor employees and records, but IGs do not, he pointed out.
This problem created a dustup last year when Skinner’s office was denied access to contractor employees and records related to the acquisition of the Coast Guard’s national security cutter.
“These hurdles are unacceptable,” Skinner said.