Just What is Proof?

The Irish and DCAA version?


One of the often frustrating aspects of an audit by DCAA or other government entities is the definition of proof.

I have noticed recently what appears, at least to me, a little anxiety on the part of DCAA auditors to collect documentation or ‘proof’ to support or fill their work papers.

My favorite, under the current COVID-19 pandemic, is taking screen shots of the contractor CEO holding up paper copies of invoices the auditor had already collected electronically to “prove” or document the invoices reality.

Another auditor informed me that anything could be faked and they were developing these extensive documentation procedures to address this issue. I pointed him to my article article I wrote four years ago on that very subject: “The Most Important Business Rule You Will Ever Learn: The House is White on this Side”.

But, given the second auditor is correct and we are fast approaching this ability to create any documentation, the solution I documented four years ago and Robert Heinlein wrote about in 1961 is our best defense.

I often joke that DCAA auditors are awarded professional judgement by act of Congress. Given this, if a DCAA asserts that she has seen something in her work papers, it is reasonable and prudent to accept this after concurrence by the contractor.  

A barrier to this simple solution is another joke I tell about DCAA auditors: “The only person a auditor trusts less than a contractor is another auditor”.

Eventually this will sort itself out, just as DCAA’s excellent walk through approach that took a while to iron out.  

The video above is an excellent example from Disney’s “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” on an assertion of proof that fails: “If any man doubts the tale…..”