NSA watchdog questions $230M in surveillance agency's labor costs, $16.4M in CARES Act invoices

Electronic eavesdropping agency also spent $3.6 million on a parking structure that had to be demolished before it was ever used.

Updated: August 6, 2022 - 11:18pm

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The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just The News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

This week's Golden Horseshoe is awarded to the National Security Agency for $227 million in questionable labor charges, $16.4 million in questionable CARES Act invoices, and $3.6 million wasted on a parking structure that had to be demolished before ever being used, according to the Office of Inspector General's semiannual report to Congress.

The unclassified report detailed the OIG's audits during the course of the year and its findings of wasteful and questionable spending by the NSA.

"In the Audit of the Agency's Parking and Transportation Initiatives, we found, among other things, that due to a lack of internal controls related to project oversight, risk assessment, and dispute resolution, the agency wasted $3.6 million constructing a parking structure that had never been built in the United States before and ultimately had to be demolished without ever being used," the OIG reported.  

NSA Inspector General Rober P. Storch also reported questionable labor charges and hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable travel charges representing about three-fourths of its audit samples.

In its audit of cost-reimbursement contracts, the OIG made "a number of significant findings, including that the Agency's Contracting Officer Representative process was ineffective and inefficient, and that its review of actual costs was insufficient," Storch wrote in his introductory message to the report. "This caused us to question labor charges of approximately $227 million and travel charges of over $226,000, totaling approximately 75 percent of the invoices sampled in our audit."  

Storch's report to Congress highlighted an audit of the agency's implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which found "significant issues," including insufficient invoice reviews.

"Evolving guidelines, reduced contract oversight staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic, an over-reliance on contractor-provided information, and the absence of clear and comprehensive Contracting Officer Representative oversight procedures for CARES invoices caused the OIG to question more than $16.4 million, or 40 percent of the sampled CARES invoice charges," according to the report. "The questionable costs were due to the status of contractor employees, differences in invoice documentation, and questionable billing rates, hours, and timeframes." 

Storch reported that NSA management agreed with all the OIG's 171 recommendations to effectively, efficiently and economically improve its operations.

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