Agencies are still having trouble spotting contractors on the battlefield, the Government Accountability Office reported today. That’s because they aren’t consistently using the new SPOT (Synchronized Redeployment and Operational Tracker) system designed to track information about contracts and contractor employees in Iraq and Afghanistan, GAO found in a new report.
Congress established the system in 2008 to help the Agency for International Development, the State Department and the Defense Department monitor and share information on contracts and contractor personnel in the combat zone. The information meant to be collected includes the number of contract personnel on the battlefield, the number of contractor employees killed or wounded, and the value and purpose of a contract.
However, each agency established different criteria for who must be registered. As a result, some required contractor personnel information isn’t in the system, GAO found. Because data varies on the nearly 226,500 contractor employees that are registered in the system, SPOT “data should not be used to identify trends or draw conclusions about contractor personnel numbers,” GAO said.
In addition, SPOT can’t track all the required contract information. For example, a memorandum between the agencies said contract values, competition information and descriptions of services must be pulled into SPOT from the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG). But GAO found:
This capability is not expected to be available until 2010. In the interim, the DOD officials overseeing SPOT’s development told us that SPOT users can manually enter competition information and descriptions, but there is no requirement for them to do so. Since SPOT is not designed to let users enter contract dollar values, the DOD officials stated that SPOT and FPDS-NG are being periodically merged to identify contract values. Even when the direct link is established, pulling FPDS-NG data into SPOT may present challenges because of how data are entered into SPOT.