GAO Recommends DoD Release More Information on Specialty Metals Waivers

A report released by the Government Accountability Office (Specialty Metals: DOD Sissemination of National Security Waiver Information Could Enhance Awareness and Compliance with Restrictions. GAO-15-133, October 16) recommends that the Department of Defense disseminate non-sensitive information within DoD and its supplier-base on the waivers it has granted for specialty metals.

Pursuant to a House report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (PL 113-66), GAO reviewed DoD’s compliance with specialty metals requirements.

10 USC 2533b requires specialty metals used in weapon systems to be procured from domestic sources or qualifying countries. However, the law allows DoD to waive this requirement in the interest of national security.

GAO found that DoD recently improved its national security waiver process, but that its dissemination of information contained in those waivers is limited. During its review, GAO identified weaknesses in DoD’s waiver process such as not having defined procedures for requesting waivers. In June 2014, DoD developed written guidance for program offices to follow when requesting these waivers, but GAO also found DoD does not have a mechanism to share information on national security waivers granted for noncompliant specialty metals.

According to GAO, disseminating non-sensitive information—including the names of programs that received waivers, sources of the noncompliant specialty metals, and corrective actions—to key stakeholders, such as DoD weapon system program offices and their defense suppliers, could help raise awareness of and compliance with the specialty metals restrictions. Moreover, greater awareness of supplier-base problems and broader dissemination of national security waiver information could assist DoD in better discovering potential vulnerabilities, such as systemic supply chain risks that could impact national security objectives.

DoD concurred with GAO’s recommendation and plans to publish non-sensitive information.

For more information, see GAO’s report.

About William Van Huis

Bill Van Huis is a Senior Writer/Analyst for Wolters Kluwer Law & Business who tracks and analyzes new regulations impacting federal government contracting. He also follows court decisions involving bid protests and contract disputes. You can find his work in WK publications like Government Contract Reports and the FAR and DFARS Matrix Tools. Bill is a Certified Professional Contracts Manager, and he has a law degree from Southern Illinois University, where he graduated summa cum laude. Prior to joining WK, Bill worked both inside and outside state and local government in the areas of procurement and municipal finance. Bill also worked as a staff attorney for the Illinois Supreme Court.
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