The Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division, has completed an audit of the Administration of Contracts and Agreements for Linguistic Services by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). At the time of our audit fieldwork, the DEA had awarded six contracts, with a total prospective value if fully utilized of about $132 million to obtain linguistic services to perform monitoring, transcription, and translation services. The contracts were awarded for services at the DEA's field divisions in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New York, and San Diego. The DEA had also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the [DELETED] to obtain linguistic services to perform translation and transcription services. The total amount of the reimbursable agreements executed under the MOU since Fiscal Year (FY) 1997 was approximately $5.3 million of which $4.1 million had been paid to the [DELETED].
We performed individual contract audits for the DEA's linguistic services contracts in Dallas, Houston, Miami, and San Diego1 to determine if the: (1) DEA adequately monitored the cost of the contracts and the performance of the contractors, (2) recipients of the contracted services were satisfied with the quality of those services, and (3) DEA complied with the Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) requirements as they relate to the linguistic services contracts and agreements. The four contracts that we audited had a total prospective value if fully utilized of $44.5 million of the $132 million awarded by the DEA for its six linguistics contracts. Of the $44.5 million awarded for the four contracts we reviewed, the contractors had been reimbursed $9,482,139. These audits showed that while the Assistant United States Attorneys and DEA case agents indicated that the quality of the linguistic services were adequate, weaknesses existed in the DEA's monitoring of payments to the contractors and in the contractors' claims for reimbursement. As a result, we questioned $2,816,581 of the $9,482,139 paid to the contractors in our individual contract audits.2 We found that several weaknesses had occurred on more than one contract, indicating a need for additional guidance from the DEA to ensure the field divisions properly administer the contracts. Specifically, the:
- contractors at the four locations were paid $425,580 for linguistic services not authorized by the contract delivery orders or that exceeded the contract delivery order amounts.
- contractors at the four locations were paid $529,833 for linguistic services performed outside the allowable performance period of the delivery orders.
- contractors at the four locations were paid $990,152 for work begun before delivery orders were approved by the Contracting Officer.
- contractors at three of the four locations (Dallas, Houston, and San Diego) were paid $353,636 for hours worked by the contractors' personnel, but the contractors did not provide the DEA with the requested timesheets to support the hours billed.
- contractors at two of the four locations (Dallas and San Diego) were paid $5,949 for hours not supported by the timesheets that were provided to the DEA by the contractors.
- contractors at two of the four locations (Dallas and Houston) were paid $297,866 for new core contractor personnel without requesting and obtaining written approval from the DEA to change the core personnel, as required by the contracts.
- contractors at three of the four locations (Dallas, Houston, and Miami) were paid $21,576 for more hours than the DEA's sign-in/sign-out logs showed were worked.
- contractors at three of the four locations (Dallas, Houston, and Miami) did not properly complete the sign-in/sign-out logs.
- contractors at three of the four locations (Dallas, Houston, and Miami) were paid $62,271 for more than one team leader per work shift even though the contracts were set up to generally have only one team leader per shift.
- contractors at two of the four locations (Dallas and Miami) were paid $30,957 in overtime costs that were either not authorized or not properly approved.
- contractors at three of the four locations (Dallas, Houston, and San Diego) were paid $73,238 in unauthorized or unsupported travel related expenses.
- contractors at two of the four locations (Dallas and Miami) submitted invoices more frequently than required by the contract, thereby increasing the DEA's administrative costs to process the payments.
- DEA at two of the four locations (Dallas and Miami) used Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) to obtain linguistic services that would have been much less costly through the contracts. We determined that by using the BPAs, the DEA spent at least $58,542 more than if it had used the contracts to obtain the linguistic services3.
- Contracting Officer's Technical Representatives (COTRs) at all four locations did not provide adequate oversight of the contracts.
In the individual contract audit for each location, we recommended that the DEA remedy the questioned costs4 that we identified in each of the preceding areas. In this report, we recommend that the DEA Administrator: (1) issue guidance to the field division COTRs instructing them to ensure that the contract requirements are properly completed, and (2) require the Contracting Officer to perform random checks to ensure that the invoices certified by the COTRs are accurate.
We also reviewed the MOU and reimbursable agreements with the [DELETED] and determined that while the users of the [DELETED] services were generally satisfied with the quality of the services, significant weaknesses existed in the [DELETED] claims for reimbursement and in the DEA's monitoring of payments to the [DELETED]. As a result, we questioned $518,9125 of the funds paid to the [DELETED] for performance from July 1, 1997, through July 30, 2001. This amount represents about 13 percent of the $4.1 million reimbursed to the [DELETED]. Specifically, we found that the:
- DEA eliminated the hourly cost control from the FY 2000 and FY 2001 agreements.
- DEA did not modify the FY 2000 agreement before paying the [DELETED] $111,842 in costs above the amount allowed in the FY 2000 agreement.
- [DELETED] was paid $269,476 for: (1) technical and administrative personnel not allowed in the FY 1997, FY 1998, and FY 1999 agreements; and (2) personnel costs paid by another Federal agency.
- [DELETED] was paid $63,083 for hours worked by part-time linguists that exceeded the hours or months allowed by the agreements.
- [DELETED] was paid $45,163 for unauthorized travel related expenses.
- [DELETED] was paid $7,405 for personnel costs not supported by payroll records.
- [DELETED] was paid $7,295 for personnel costs at part-time average hourly rates that exceeded the rates allowed by the FY 1998 and FY 1999 agreements.
- [DELETED] was paid $5,838 for awards not allowed by the FY 1999 agreement.
- [DELETED] was paid $5,804 in administrative costs that exceeded the amounts allowed by the FY 1998 and FY 2000 agreements.
- [DELETED] was paid $3,006 in overtime costs not authorized by the agreements.
- DEA did not effectively monitor the costs billed by the [DELETED].
We recommend that the DEA Administrator: (1) reestablish hourly rates for linguists in future reimbursable agreements, (2) remedy the questioned costs we identified in each of the preceding areas, and (3) establish written procedures for reviewing invoices and overseeing the [DELETED] agreements.
These items are discussed in greater detail in the Findings and Recommendations section of the report. Our audit objectives, scope and methodology appear in Appendix I.
- We did not audit the Chicago contract because at the time of our audit fieldwork the contract was ending and a new contract was about to be awarded. We did not audit the New York contract because it had recently begun and the contractor had submitted few invoices as of July 30, 2001.
- The Inspector General Act of 1988 contains our reporting requirements for questioned costs. However, not all findings are dollar-related. See Appendix II for a breakdown of our dollar-related findings and for a definition of questioned costs. The $2,816,581 in questioned costs identified in the individual audits is not included again in the schedule of dollar-related findings at Appendix II of this report. This amount contains some duplicate costs because some costs were questioned under multiple categories. However, the amounts questioned on the contracts were based on a sample of invoices reviewed for each category and are not projected to the total universe of invoices paid.
- Of the $58,542, $33,019 was for the contract in Dallas. In this case, the DEA was the cause for the BPA being used instead of the contract. Therefore, the $33,019 was not reported as a questioned cost in the Dallas report. The remaining $25,523 was reported as a questioned cost in the contract audit report for Miami.
- Questioned costs may be remedied by offset, waiver, recovery of funds, or the provision of supporting documentation.
- The questioned costs that we identified for the reimbursable agreements were based on a sample of invoices reviewed for each category and are not projected to the total universe of invoices paid.