Cadillac Contracts Cannibalize Agency Science Budget – Review Asked for Overhead of Up to 50% in Open-Ended Reclamation Contracts

Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Press Release, April 4, 2013

Hefty research contracts executed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation should be reined in, according to an audit request filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The agency has been increasingly transferring work previously performed by staff scientists out to contractors at much higher costs than doing the work in-house. PEER is asking the Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General (IG) to conduct both an audit and performance review of Reclamation’s aggressive contracting, with a focus on such features as –
• “Cost comparisons were not conducted or considered” in framing a master agreement for a series of contracts, according to an agency memo;
• Contracts divert between 30 and 50% of funds to overhead (“indirect costs”). The replacement of Reclamation staff with contractors in just one phase of work means that “the total cost of the proposal approximately doubled,” per an internal email; and
• Contracts are drafted in such an open-ended fashion that “we can throw in the kitchen sink,” in the words of one researcher.
See also:
Read the PEER complaint
View “throw in the kitchen sink” email
Examine admission of no cost comparison
Look at doubling of cost message
See drive by Reclamation to contract out its science