02/23/2012 07:43 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2012

0 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 = DynCorp

This is the third installment of documentation released to me by the State Department, pursuant to a past FOIA request. For background see Part 1.

Many people would say that it is unfair to judge someone's past record by one failure or mistake. I agree with that. Who among us has lived such a virtuous life that he or she has not messed up once? Not me.

So, I would be the first to say that one should not judge DynCorp, a major private military and security contractor, on the basis of one past Worldwide Personal Protective Services contract performance evaluation; the subject of my past post.

So let's look at another performance report for DynCorp. This one covers the period June 22, 2005 through June 21, 2010.

Remember that these documents provide information on how the State Department rated its contractors on criteria such as quality, cost control, business relations, timeliness of performance and customer satisfaction.

In my last post the evaluation I examined covered approximately the same time period, although it was signed off on August 9, 2010. The one discussed in this post was signed off on July 20, 2010.

Comparing the two we can see that Dyncorp actually managed to improve its performance in the latter evaluation. In that one in terms of quality, it received a 2, out of 5. That is a substantial improvement.

Considering that was the equivalent to a 40 percent rating out of 100 one might ask much of an improvement that is. Perhaps it's an example of that new math you've been hearing about.

Well, consider that in the previous evaluation it receive a rating of 0. No, that is not a typo. That is ZERO. No wonder the subsequent evaluation was an improvement. What did DynCorp do or not do that earned it a 0? According to the evaluation:

DynCorp failed to perform on a major aviation task order due to inadequately managing its own operations and those of its subcontractors. In light of this, the Contracting Officer sent DynCorp a letter on September 4, 2009, stating that "...DynCorp's failure to begin performance on 9/4/09..., places DynCorp in default of its contractual obligations under the task order." This non-performance jeopardized the continuation of essential aviation services to the U.S. Mission in Iraq. The Department had to take mitigation efforts that increased its workload, impacted Post operations, and increased costs by at least $20M that first year."

Gotta love that cost effectiveness. Although I thought one supposed virtue of using PMSCs was to lower costs.

The quality section of the evaluation also said:

Significant concerns also arose regarding DynCorp's oversight of its own personnel in the field. In northern Iraq, lack of management oversight resulted in violations of the standards of conduct which forced the Government to direct the removal of 11 personnel, including the DynCorp Program Manager, from the contract.

Oh dear; apparently someone forgot to read their company Code of Ethics and Business Conduct .

Still, that is just one of five criteria DynCorp was rated on. Perhaps it did better in other aspects. And, it did. In terms of cost control it received a 1. The evaluation says it attempted to recover money by adding unsupportable costs to subsequent price proposals.

On the previously mentioned aviation task order, DynCorp submitted an unsolicited proposal attempting to charge for transition related work that was already included in the base year task order price, as set forth in DynCorp's cost proposal. Throughout discussions related to the task order, DynCorp attempted to shift responsibility for significant logistical activity to the Government, despite having both proposed technical solutions in their technical proposal and pricing those solutions. DynCorp consistently attempted to portray the cost impact of its non-performance as the Government's responsibility, and displayed indifference to the operational impact on its customer, the Government.

Hmm, cost-shifting and blame-shifting; nice touch!

But maybe it did better in business relations. After all, if you are a major federal contractor the one thing you should know how to do is satisfy the client. But actually, DynCorp did worse; it received a 0.

On the same day (in mid-August 2009) that the Program Office and Contracting Officer met with the FAA and learned of potentially serious images with DynCorp's aviation plan, DynCorp management reiterated that it was on track to begin performance on September 4, 2009. During Subsequent discussions, DynCorp personnel stated that their operating assumptions and plans differed substantially from contract requirements and their own personnel. At no time prior to FAA's notification to the Department did DynCorp bring any contract performance issues to the attention of the Government. Discussions with DynCorp senior management, including corporate president, Global Platform Support Solutions president, and other senior officials, subsequently revealed that DynCorp knew that there was a lack of production by its aircraft subcontractor that would prevent its ability to perform on any schedule acceptable to the Government. DynCorp never presented a viable plan to perform on any acceptable timeline and each plan assumed substantial Government accommodation or intervention to ensure performance.

Gee, not looking good. Still DynCorp still had at least two more criteria to score positively. Maybe, as the shot clock ran down, it can pull out two fives which might get it up to the 50 percent mark. But, no, as you might have guessed, it choked. When it came to timeliness of performance it received a 0.

DynCorp could not perform rotary wing services, the fundamental requirement on its aviation task order, despite the Government providing assistance and essential material. The various mitigation plans presented, never acknowledged the urgency of the requirement or the Government's needs. In Pakistan, DynCorp fell behind on its training schedule by pursuing an unsolicited and impractical training proposal rather than complying with known task order requirements.

Given the above you know what's coming when it comes to customer satisfaction. Yep, it received a 0.

DynCorp consistently provided inaccurate and misleading information concerning its efforts on the aviation task order. The disparities between DynCorp's aviation proposal and what it later stated were its real intentions should have been sufficient to render its proposal invalid and as mentioned above there were numerous opportunities in the pre and post award acquisition process to share the disparities with the Department. Working with DynCorp management is labor intensive and requires more effort on the part of the program office than the results justify. DynCorp's actions continually reinforced the impression that it strives to shift burden and risk to the Government. Performance by DynCorp management has caused the program office to lose confidence in DynCorp as an effective vendor under the WPPS II contract.

Given all of the above nobody will be shocked that the government was not enthused about the prospect of working with DynCorp in the future.

No. Continued use of DynCorp would represent an unjustifiable risk to the Government.

I'd just point out that if an actual person working for DynCorp, or any other contractor for that matter, received ratings like this on their performance assessment the door would be hitting them in the back as they left the office.

Yet even though this assessment is less than two years old DynCorp still gets government contracts. Last July, for example, it received two new task orders potentially worth 244.8 million for aviation maintenance work.

Perhaps DynCorp just made a concerted effort to get its act together. Or perhaps the government just considers DynCorp too big to fail.

You can read the full performance evaluation here.