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Alan Fram – (Associated Press) – WASHINGTON – May 3, 2012 – It was a curious offer to contractors from a government agency: We’ll give you a tax deduction for making federal buildings more energy efficient if you qualify and if you’ll write us a check for 19 percent of the tax break’s value.

The General Services Administration, already under a cloud for a lavish Las Vegas employee conference, says that after seven months, it dropped its demand for the giveback requirement because there were no takers.

But the policy is now raising new questions about whether GSA was trying to raise money for its own budget without congressional authorization, whether that effort was legal and whether other agencies have tried anything similar.

“It was brought to our attention that certain people at agencies were asking for what looked like kickbacks in order to get allocations of a tax deduction,” Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s oversight panel, said Thursday. “This is a major concern and I’m certainly going to investigate this.”

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David Isenberg: A Morally Reprehensible Problem

Posted May 3, 2012 By Ms Sparky

These people thought they had a job that provided a good wage, food and housing. They found out they had none of that. (2008 LOGCAP Scandal)

David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – May 3, 2012 – I confess: I have an interest in an unseemly topic. Last year I coauthored a report on the subject and testified before Congress about it. The subject is labor trafficking.

So let’s give credit where it is due. On May 1, the International Stability Operations Association, a leading private military and security contracting trade association and the American Bar Association hosted a Combating Labor Trafficking: Legal and Compliance Mechanisms in the Fight Against Forced Labor conference. The coordinating partners for the event were such major companies as DynCorp International, Triple Canopy, FSI Worldwide, and Principal Risk Solutions.

This is not, of course, a problem exclusive to the PMSCO sector but neither is it something that has happened only now and then either. Suffice it to say that it enough of a problem that this is the second conference ISOA organized on the issue, the first being seven years ago. The conference program guide minced no words in stating why a conference is necessary:

Labor trafficking is a disgraceful practice that plagues many country as well as international peacekeeping and stability operations. Poverty creates pools of desperate labor at high risk of human trafficking of all kinds, including forced labor. The problem is morally reprehensible but of such enormous complexity it cannot be solved by a single sector and must be addressed by stakeholders working in partnership from all sides — private, governmental, nongovernmental and humanitarians sectors; clients and employers

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Mark Memmott – (NPR) – May 3, 2012 – Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was frustrated with “regional jihadi groups and his seeming inability to exercise control over their actions” in the last few years before he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs.

That’s “the most compelling story to be told,” according to an analysis of some documents seized from bin Laden’s Pakistani compound in the May 2011 raid that ended with his death, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center reported today.

That center this morning posted online its analysis and a selection from the 6,000 or so pages of material taken from bin Laden’s compound.

As we reported earlier, CNN’s Peter Bergen, who reviewed several hundred of the documents while researching his book Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden From 9/11 to Abbottabadsays they:

“Paint a portrait of a man who was simultaneously an inveterate micromanager but was also someone almost delusional in his belief that his organization could still force a change in American foreign policies in the Muslim world if only he could get another big attack organized inside the United States — something some of his subordinates were quite skeptical about given al-Qaida’s diminished capabilities.”

We’re updating this post with highlights and materials. (Click HERE for original article) (Click HERE for the report PDF) (Click HERE for link to released documents)

Defense procurement problems won’t go away

Posted May 3, 2012 By Forseti

The Department of Defense (DoD) is taking a major step in stopping the waste of taxpayer dollars. POGO recently learned that DoD sent a legislative proposal to Congress to narrow the definition of a “commercial item” to mean goods or services that are actually sold to the general public in “like quantities.” This proposal is a huge improvement over the current definition, a broadly worded definition open to abuse because it includes good or services “of a type” that are “offered” for sale or lease

…Not surprisingly, the contracting industry is opposing DoD’s proposal, claiming that competition will suffer as certain companies won’t do business with the federal government because of stricter contracting rules… ~Scott Amey, General Counsel, POGO

Walter Pincus – (Washington Post) – May 2, 2012 – In June 1986, after a year-long investigation, then-President Ronald Reagan’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management — later known as the Packard Commission — filed a final report.

It was established to investigate Pentagon procurement after an enormous increase in defense spending and the discovery of the infamous $435 hammer and $600 toilet seat. The panel was chaired by David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Co., and deputy defense secretary in the Nixon administration.

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Washington Post - Money as a Weapon (August 11, 2008)

Today the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) has released its latest quarterly report. Here is what happening with private contractors in Iraq. ~David Isenberg, SIGIR Speaks

US watchdog reports funds available for relief, reconstruction during Iraq war are believed to have ended up benefiting insurgents.

W.G. Dunlop – (Middle East Online) –  BAGHDAD – May 1, 2012 – Some US commanders believe funds available for relief and reconstruction during the country’s war in Iraq may have ended up benefiting insurgents, a report released by a US watchdog said.

The US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) surveyed officers and officials associated with the Commander’s Emergency Response Programme (CERP), a fund used by US military officers for projects to boost rebuilding in their areas of responsibility.

The US Congress has allocated nearly $4 billion since 2004 for CERP.

About $1 billion of the money spent so far has gone to 605 projects that exceed the Army’s definition of “small scale,” or more than $500,000 each. And $880 million was spent on projects that took longer than 6 months, considered the definition of “short term” by many commanders. ~Dana Hedgpeth & Sarah Cohen, Money as a Weapon

“Some commanders indicated that the diversion of CERP project funds may have benefited insurgents,” SIGIR said in the report published on Monday detailing the results of the survey.

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