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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Oversight of Temporary Emergency Power Contracts Awarded for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma DODIG-2019-043

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Objective


We determined whether U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Pittsburgh District properly monitored contractor performance on temporary emergency power contracts in accordance with applicable Federal and DoD contracting guidance for the disaster recovery response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.


Background

Three major hurricanes made landfall in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands during the 2017 hurricane season: Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma marked the first time that two Atlantic Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the continental United States in the same season. These storms affected roughly 19.8 million people and required USACE to provide temporary emergency power disaster relief assistance. USACE Pittsburgh District officials ordered temporary emergency power for recovery efforts for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.


For incidents that require a coordinated Federal response, the Secretary of Homeland Security activates Emergency Support Function #3, “Public Works and Engineering Annex.” This function facilitates the delivery of services, technical assistance, engineering expertise, construction management, and other support to prepare for, respond to, or recover from disaster or an incident requiring a coordinated Federal response. USACE is the primary agency responsible for coordinating activities involved in providing temporary emergency power to critical facilities under Emergency Support Function #3.

To expedite its response to emergencies and disasters, USACE developed and implemented Advanced Contracting Initiative contracts (ACI) for relief efforts. USACE officials award ACI contracts before disasters that allow USACE contracting personnel to respond when a disaster occurs by placing delivery orders at a negotiated rate for supplies and services. USACE used ACI contracts for temporary emergency power.

On October 1, 2013, and October 22, 2014, USACE Pittsburgh District contracting officials awarded three competitively bid firm-fixed-priced ACI contracts, two valued at $100 million and the other valued at $95 million, respectively, for temporary emergency power missions.

Finding

USACE oversight personnel did not properly monitor and assess contractor performance, in accordance with Federal and DoD contracting guidance, on three service contracts for temporary emergency power, valued at $19 million, for disaster recovery in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We identified the following deficiencies.

  • The contracting officer’s representative (COR) for all three ACI contracts did not properly monitor or document his assessments of the contractors’ performance and did not maintain required files documenting his oversight efforts. This occurred because, although the COR focused more on accomplishing the temporary emergency power mission, he did not verify that the contractors provided services according to contract requirements. 
  • USACE Planning and Response Team personnel did not document that they performed quality assurance procedures sufficient to demonstrate that the contractor performed contracted services at the standard specified in the performance work statement. This occurred because USACE Planning and Response Team personnel did not follow the quality assurance surveillance plan when performing quality assurance of the contractors.

As a result, USACE oversight personnel did not know whether the contractors complied with contract requirements and whether the Government received the services it paid $19 million for from August to December 2017 to support temporary emergency power for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

 

Management Comments on the Finding and Our Response

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General commented on the finding. He stated that the magnitude of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria is an important backdrop to understand the COR challenges in documenting oversight performed for three service contracts for temporary emergency power, valued at $19 million. In total, the U .S. was impacted by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events including 3 tropical cyclones, 8 severe storms, 2 inland floods, a crop freeze, drought and wildfire as reported by National Center for Environmental Information. The damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria alone were responsible for approximately $265 billion of the $306 billion in 2017 weather and climate related disasters. However, as stated in this report, we discuss USACE personnel’s oversight of contractor performance in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and not Maria.

 

Recommendations

 

We recommend that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General:

 

  • Provide training to the COR responsible for temporary emergency power contracts on oversight responsibilities, emphasizing the importance of the responsibilities specified in the COR designation letter.

  • Provide training to the procuring contracting officers of temporary emergency power contracts, emphasizing the importance of monitoring the performance of personnel assigned contracting officer’s representative responsibilities.

  • Direct contracting officials responsible for temporary emergency power Advanced Contracting Initiative contracts to update the quality assurance surveillance plan to include specific means for documenting daily quality assurance inspections.

  • Require all personnel performing the quality assurance responsibilities for the temporary emergency power mission to receive appropriate contract quality assurance training.

 

Management Comments and Our Response

 

The USACE Commanding General agreed with our recommendations. The Commanding General agreed to have two additional trained CORs dedicated to Task Force Temporary Power by April 1, 2019, and in the interim, use CORs from other offices to assist in managing the temporary ACI contracts. In addition, the Commanding General stated that the contracting office is hiring a technical expert to perform the contracting officer responsibilities for temporary power missions.

 

The Commanding General also agreed to revise the quality assurance surveillance plan in February 2019, after the ACI contracts are awarded, to include specific means for documenting daily quality assurance assessments through contract modification by June 1, 2019. The Commanding General further agreed to develop both an online and on the job quality assurance curriculum and require all Quality Assurance personnel complete the training beginning in calendar year 2019.

 

The USACE Commanding General’s comments met the intent of the four recommendations. Therefore, the recommendations are resolved, but will remain open. We will close the recommendations when we verify the actions are fully implemented, and we review the support for the planned or already completed actions.

 

This report is a result of Project No. D2018-D000CG-0066.000.