When Does Collaboration Become Collusion?
While the current political climate leaves little doubt about the need to cut government spending immediately, perhaps no issue has been as controversial as that of government contractor accountability.
If the government needs an example of the limits of government power, the Department of Defense is certainly it. Since at least the early 1960s, the DOD has known that it has neither the authority nor the right to determine who will contract with the State Department. The State Department is in charge of contracts with the State Department.
This situation is not a new one. The Department of Defense does not want to have to pay contracts to contractors that it knows will be illegal. Under DOD regulations, it must approve all contract awards to ensure that it has had an opportunity to review the contractual documentation. Since it is impossible for the State Department to review all of the documentation that the DOD uses to make its decisions, the Defense Department is, by law and regulations, prohibited from approving any contract in which it knew to be illegal.
Now, with the rise of the Internet as well as the rapid changes in software technology, the DOD is struggling with how to get the information it needs in order to make good decisions when selecting contractors. To help get information to the Defense Department, a group of military personnel created Project Ocularis. The Ocularis project is designed to provide DOD’s headquarters with the information they need when making contract awards. Instead of relying on the State Department, using information provided by a small group of military personnel, they are attempting to gather the information themselves.
There are many problems with this approach. First, the project is flawed in its foundation. The DOD is attempting to rely on the Internet and software tools, and there is no reason to assume that they can or will build the required database without help from the private sector. As part of the Ocularis project, it will likely be necessary to contract with the private sector to do this work.
In addition, Ocularis