Air Force officials laid the groundwork to further their fight against procurement fraud and contractor misconduct with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding here Dec. 9.
The memorandum between the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Air Force Contracting and Air Force General Council for Contractor Responsibilities is designed to recapture acquisition excellence, strengthen the procurement process, and prevent and mitigate procurement fraud, misconduct, fraudulent contract performance and unethical activity.
“The Air Force has always been a leader in the procurement fraud fight, and we are constantly enhancing our approach,” said David Robbins, the assistant deputy general counsel director of the Air Force Office of Procurement Fraud Remedies. “The process set in place has never been done before, and we are hoping to improve our fraud prosecution system.”
The Air Force spends millions of dollars annually providing goods and services to the war fighter. There is an unfortunate reality that goods and services are paid for and not always received or performed as promised, Robbins said.
The coordination of this memorandum enables fraud remedies officials to bring Air Force acquisitions and contracting officials, who initially procure the goods and service, together with AFOSI as a team to identify fraudulent contracts and prosecute them more efficiently, he added.
“As Air Force contracting professionals, we have an obligation to ensure our war fighters have what they need when they need it … at the best value for America’s taxpayers,” said Maj. Gen. Wendy M. Masiello, the deputy assistant secretary for the contracting office of the assistant secretary of the Office for Acquisitions.
The vast majority of Air Force contractors operate ethically, Masiello said; however, the occasional “bad actors” will not be tolerated because the integrity of the acquisition process must be protected for the taxpayer and for those contractors who expect nothing less from their competitors.
“This memorandum solidifies the Air Force contracting partnership with the legal and law enforcement communities to that end,” Masiello said. “Working together we send an even stronger message that we have zero tolerance for procurement fraud.”
Deputy General Counsel for Contractor Responsibility Steven Shaw said this makes “crystal clear” the Air Force’s intention to use every available remedy to protect against procurement fraud and misconduct.
“It sends a strong signal that misconduct will be dealt with immediately with criminal convictions, civil fraud judgments, suspensions, debarments and contract remedies as needed,” Shaw said.
One of the major challenges in the past was interagency cooperation in identifying and prosecuting offenders, Robbins said. Each agency focused on its individual piece in the process but not the whole picture of mission accomplishment.
“Our primary mission is to aggressively pursue and investigate all allegations of procurement fraud,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin Jacobsen, the AFOSI commander. “This memorandum encourages an integrated approach that protects the Air Force from future misconduct and punishes unethical contractors.”
Ultimately, the Air Force wants to ensure the tax payers are getting the proper return on money spent supporting the war fighter, Robbins said.
“It is our view that every Airman, whether they are turning a wrench or working any system, needs the tools to be successful,” Robbins said. “And our goal is to ensure they have those tools.”