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McCaskill, Webb Introduce Wartime Contracting Legislation that Could Save Taxpayers Billions

NEIL GORDON and JAKE WIENS – (POGO) – March 1, 2012 – Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jim Webb (D-VA) have introduced the Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act of 2012 (S. 2139), a bill that will greatly enhance transparency, sustainability, and accountability in overseas contingency operation contracting by the Department of Defense (DoD), the State Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The bill is a response to the recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan (CWC), which submitted its final contingency contracting report to Congress in August.

Here’s a look at several of the good-government and contingency contracting reforms in the bill:

Inspectors General

The bill requires that the Chair of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) select one of three current Inspectors General (IG)—DoD IG, State IG, and USAID IG—to lead oversight of contingency operations. That IG would be responsible for resolving conflicts of jurisdiction between the IGs, authorizing the employment of temporary auditors and investigators, and submitting to Congress a bi-annual report containing detailed information about its activities and the activities of the agencies engaged in the contingency operation. The bill would improve oversight of contingency operations by IGs, but it is less ambitious than the CWC’s recommendation for a permanent IG for contingency operations. Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) has introduced legislation that is closer to the CWC’s recommendation.

Suspension and Debarment

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Risk Safety, Have Govt Contract Fees Reduced

Tish Kraft – (Courthouse News) – WASHINGTON – February 28, 2012 –  The Department of Defense may reduce or deny award fees to government contractors found to jeopardize the health or safety of government personnel, under an interim rule now adopted as final.

This rule also modifies the requirement that information on the final determination of award fee be entered into the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System.

Specifically, the DoD employee must: “Include in the evaluation criteria of any award-fee plan, a review of contractor and subcontractor actions that jeopardized the health or safety of government personnel, through gross negligence or reckless disregard for the safety of such personnel, as determined through-(1) Conviction in a criminal proceeding, or finding of fault and liability in a civil or administrative proceeding …; or (2) If a contractor or a subcontractor at any tier is not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts, a final determination of contractor or subcontractor fault resulting from a DoD investigation.”

Also: “In evaluating the contractor’s performance under a contract that includes the [reduction or denial clause], the contracting officer shall consider reducing or denying award fees for a period if contractor or subcontractor actions cause serious bodily injury or death of civilian or military government personnel during such period. The contracting officer’s evaluation also shall consider recovering all or part of award fees previously paid for such period. (Click HERE for original article)  (Click HERE this regulation and others)

Fraudulent Defense Contractors Paid $1 Trillion

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 – Hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade, according to a Department of Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders (I-Vt.) called the report “shocking.” He said aggressive steps must be taken to ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted.

“The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money,” said Sanders. “With the country running a nearly $15 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money.”

The report detailed how the Pentagon paid $573.7 billion during the past 10 years to more than 300 contractors involved in civil fraud cases that resulted in judgments of more than $1 million, $398 billion of which was awarded after settlement or judgment for fraud.  When awards to “parent” companies are counted, the Pentagon paid more than $1.1 trillion during the past 10 years just to the 37 top companies engaged in fraud.

Another $255 million went to 54 contractors convicted of hard-core criminal fraud in the same period. Of that total, $33 million was paid to companies after they were convicted of crimes.

Some of the nation’s biggest defense contractors were involved. Read the remainder of this entry »

Not in my backyard and other news

Monsanto cannot toss claims that it caused  damage to a woman’s nervous system by practicing “open pit burning” of a chemical used in “Agent Orange,” a federal judge ruled.

Lead plaintiff Mary B. Spaulding, who lived near Monsanto’s manufacturing plant in Nitro, W. Va., says she developed “peripheral neuropathy” from exposure to dioxin, one of the key ingredients in the most notorious herbicide of the Vietnam War. ~ Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News

Missile defense system fight in Washington puts Lockheed’s Syracuse-area jobs in crosshairs
Mark Weiner – (The Post Standard) – Washington, D.C. – October 2, 2011 –  Hundreds of Central New York workers building a long-delayed missile defense system could lose their jobs if Congress proceeds with a plan to eliminate the program’s funding.

Lockheed Martin’s plant in Salina has a $625 million share of the multibillion-dollar contract to design and develop the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS.

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Putting the “con” in military contractor

Department of Defense report outlines contractor fraud

Theo Emery – Globe Staff – February 2, 2011 – More than 100 military contractors providing everything from aircraft to wrist cuffs for gloves committed civil or criminal fraud between 2007 and 2009, according to a report from the Department of Defense, yet many continued to receive funds from the department – including some barred from contracting.

The Pentagon report found that 30 contractors had been convicted of fraud between 2007 and 2009, and 91 had been the subject of civil judgments over fraud claims; some companies appeared on both lists. In addition, 120 companies had reached settlements over claims. Forty-three companies were suspended, and 164 were debarred from contracting.

The information is not typically compiled in one place, but Senator Bernard Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, requested the information through a defense spending bill last year. Covering three of the 10 years worth of data requested, the report lists many cases that are already public, including some that have received widespread news coverage, and includes no details of the cases. Still, the report provides a window into contractor fraud, which Sanders said should be paramount as Congress wrestles cutting the federal deficit.

“The people of this country want to make sure that when they spend a dollar on defense, it’s going for defense, it’s not going to companies committing fraud,” said Sanders.

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