ACO Approval of Contractor Business Systems, With Teeth


DoD has proposed important amendments to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (75 Fed. Reg. 2457, Jan. 15, 2010) that would reinforce the authority of the administrative contracting officer (“ACO”) as the final decision maker about the adequacy of contractor "business systems," permitting the ACO, after considering the contractor's response to recommendations from DCAA, to withhold a percentage of interim payments, progress payments, and performance-based payments upon the ACO's “final determination” that deficiencies exist in one or more of a contractor's “business systems,” which would include accounting systems, estimating systems, purchasing systems, earned value management systems, material management and accounting systems, and property management systems. While the initial withholding for deficiencies in a single business system would be 10%, the ACO could withhold up to a cumulative 50% of payments for deficiencies in more than one business system, and withholdings could total up to 100% of contract payments if the ACO determines that there are one or more system deficiencies that are “highly likely to lead to improper contract payments being made, or represent an unacceptable risk of loss to the Government” until the ACO determines that the contractor has corrected the deficiencies.