February 6, 2014
DCAA union participation is now nationwide.
February 6, 2014
DCAA union participation is now nationwide.
January 30, 2014
January 2, 2014
Reading Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) cases are one of the items clients pay me for in my hourly fees but is not normally an exciting part of my day. I try and keep my eyes from glazing over and continue to express gratitude that I did not attend law school.
There is a recurring theme in the Small Business Contractors that end up before the Board, a “my word versus theirs” theme. Sometimes it is obvious that the contractor is lying about statements allegedly made by someone in the government. Sometimes it is just as obvious that someone in the government made statements that cannot be supported.
The majority of the time it is difficult to determine which party, contractor or government, enjoys the faulty memory of the events.
I usually get involved after the telephone conversation or meeting. I worked with one client that spent millions of dollars on such a telephone conversation only to see the government deny the costs and watch the courts never make that determination (the contractor lost on a technicality).
Another client claimed a DCAA auditor called him on his cell phone over the weekend and offered to approve his company’s accounting system if they fired me as a consultant. As I dug into that one, I came to believe that it was the client who made the offer, not DCAA making the demand. I came to believe this after I terminated my relationship with the client upon realizing they were not really interested in compliance, only deals.
And sometimes it is simply stupid. I am sure there is a DCAA Supervisor trying to convince the OIG that he never told me that:
It is about accountability, not just for contractors but the government also. Part of the way we help bring DCAA out of their ongoing crisis is by setting standards for their behavior and ensuring consequences for their behavior. We need to hold them accountable as victims of their inconsistencies and as taxpayers who do require protection.
I am not saying record every conversation with the government. In many states one sided recording is illegal and the federal law follows the state laws.
What I am saying is document everything.
This is nothing but being professional and should offend no one. I often tell DCAA during field work that I will follow up each segment with an email to them documenting what we had done, with attached backup documentation and copied to the client.
Even this does not always work. a DCAA supervisory, field auditor, and I once reconciled a public voucher to the client’s general ledger only to have DCAA later claim that it did not reconcile (despite the email and supporting documents). I am still trying to get that supervisor to, as we said in the Airborne, “pull his head out of his fourth point of contact”.
The vast majority of times, my relationship with DCAA is positive and the agency is full of dedicated government employees who are protecting taxpayers on a daily basis with little praise, pay, or support.
The vast majority of people do not commit murder or steal either, but there are laws and procedures we all follow to deal with those few individuals who do. We are talking about good business and protecting yourself.
December 30, 2013
I am going to argue that the original guidance provided to DCAA auditors in the Contract Audit Manual and the DCAA audit programs, over time, gave birth to a paradoxical view of timekeeping that DCAA continues to trip over on occasion.
DCAA based their original guidance on paper timesheets and included the following guidance:
This is excerpted from 5.909.1 of the CAM.
Looking at this (filling out in ink, preprinting, initialed corrections, signature, and so on), I am reminded of a legal contract or even a bank draft (check). It always appeared to me that DCAA was providing guidance for the creation of a legal document – a timesheet certified by the employee and accepted by the counter signature. DCAA reinforced this thought several years ago when offices across the country argued that these timesheets needed a unique number just like a check.
I agree with the concept, even if I did not agree with the unwritten guidance for unique numbering.
After basking in the glow of agreement with DCAA, I decided to take it a step forward, especially since some twenty plus years after their introduction, DCAA still fails to provide guidance on how electronic timesheets are created (Please, please do not raise 5.902.2 – that is badge and punch cards).
The final straw came when a DCAA supervisor argued that management intervention was required before an employee could safely utilize the backspace key to change an hourly entry from 4 to 3 (see the subsequent cartoon here). I understood I really needed to introduce some clarification.
What makes a contract a contract is the signature attesting to all that is above it. We do not want lawyers issuing contracts in pencil, but I do not mind if they use that tool to draft it. On numerous occasions over the years, I scratched out a section of a contract and replaced it with a glossed section. The gloss section bears my initials along with the initials of the other party. Who has not scratched out the date on a check, corrected it, and initialed the same?
What makes a timesheet a timesheet is the SIGNATURE. What makes a timesheet final is the COUNTER SIGNATURE. Everything before this is simple conjecture.
This does not mean that Contractors should not set standards for timesheet completion such as daily completion, using ink, initialing changes, and so on. I encourage weekly timesheets so the manager’s memory is fresh. The guidance provides uniform standards to allow for improved management.
DCAA is free to chime in with their thoughts as long as they understand it is not a timesheet until it is signed (electronically or otherwise) and presented to the employer.
If you believe the difference is too subtle to bother with, just remember the hours I spend arguing with DCAA about the employee’s right to use the backspace key.
December 24, 2013
A DCAA auditor and a government contractor are robbed on the way into a meeting. After the robber leaves, the DCAA auditor turns to the contractor and tells her “I hope you are not going to try and claim that, you didn’t get a receipt”.
December 1, 2013
Gee, DCAA enjoys one of the lowest retirement rate in government according to a recent Federal Times article (http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20131201/PERSONNEL01/312010004/At-many-agencies-fears-an-exodus).
August 23, 2013