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Air Force Personnel Can Improve Compliance With the Berry Amendment and the Buy American Act DODIG-2016-051

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Objective:

We determined whether Air Force personnel complied with the Berry Amendment1 and the Buy American Act2 when they purchased covered items such as food, clothing, tents, textiles, and hand or measuring tools. We performed this audit in response to Section 1601 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014. We reviewed a nonstatistical sample of 54 contracts, valued at $19.3 million, out of 510 contracts, valued at $45.4 million, that were awarded from October 1, 2013, through May 15, 2015.

Findings:

Air Force contracting personnel complied with the Berry Amendment for 15 of the 21 contracts reviewed. However, Air Force personnel at four of the seven contracting offices visited did not comply with the Berry Amendment for six contracts, with an obligated value of $7.1 million. Contracting personnel omitted the Berry Amendment implementing clauses because they were not familiar with the Berry Amendment, relied on their contract writing system, or because of an oversight. As a result, the Air Force had limited assurance that items purchased on six contracts were U.S.-produced items.

Air Force personnel complied with the Buy American Act for 21 of the 33 contracts reviewed. However, Air Force personnel from five contracting offices did not ensure 12 of 33 contracts complied w ith the Buy American Act. Air Force personnel omitted the Buy American Act contract clauses from 10 contracts because they were unfamiliar with the Buy American Act requirements; relied on previous contracts with similar purchases; did not complete sufficient review of the contract before award; or mistakenly omitted the clause or made an administrative error. As a result, Air Force personnel had limited assurance that purchased items complied with the Buy American Act and suppliers may have provided nondomestically produced items. Contracting personnel from the 502d Contracting Squadron may have committed a potential Antideficiency Act violation and 10th Contracting Squadron contracting personnel may have committed two potential Antideficiency Act violations when they purchased nondomestically produced items when domestically produced items were available.

Air Force personnel corrected some of the deficiencies identified during the audit. Specifically, they modified two contracts by incorporating Berry Amendment clauses and conducted Buy American Act training.

Recommendations:

We recommend that Air Force officials determine whether noncompliant items were delivered and, when appropriate, obtain compliant replacement items. Officials should also review potential Antideficiency violations.

Management Comments and Our Response

Air Force officials generally addressed all specifics of the recommendations. However, the Chief of Contracting, 355th Contracting Squadron, partially responded to Recommendations A.1 and B.2.


1 The Berry Amendment directs DoD personnel to ensure funds appropriated or otherwise available to DoD are not used to procure covered items if the items were not grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the United States.

2 The Buy American Act requires, with certain exceptions, that only articles, materials, and supplies that were mined, produced, or manufactured in the United States are used to fulfill Federal procurement and construction contracts.

This report is a result of Project No. D2015-D000CG-0188.000.