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Pentagon Fraud – “This has got to stop”

Photo: Office of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

The Senate has approved several amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254), which will bring greater transparency and accountability to federal contracting. The amendments, which OMB Watch endorsed, would:

  • Strengthen whistleblower protections for federal contractors and grantees, which ensures that employees of contractors and grantees cannot be fired or punished for reporting misconduct, modeled after the protections pioneered in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
  • Require the Defense Department to publish its “revolving door” database of senior department officials who seek employment with defense contractors – sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Require the Defense Department to conduct an annual study on defense contracting fraud, including an assessment of its business with contractors previously penalized for fraud against the government and recommendations for reform – sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV)

~ Senate Passes Amendments to Shed Light on Contractor Misbehavior

The Senate on Friday agreed to make the Pentagon compile annual reports on contracting fraud. The provision by Sen. Bernie Sanders was added to a Department of Defense authorization bill. Another Sanders amendment added to the bill today would make public a list of senior military officials who leave the government and land on the payrolls of defense contractors. “This country has a $16 trillion national debt. It is unacceptable that the Department of Defense continues to lose vast sums of taxpayer money because of fraud perpetrated by major defense contractors. This has got to stop,” Sanders said.

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Layoff threats put Congress on notice

Austin Wright – (Politico) – June 13, 2012 – Facing economic uncertainty, defense contractors are plotting to spur Congress to nix the automatic budget cuts set to begin next year.

The plan? Threaten to send out layoff notices — hundreds of thousands of them, right before Election Day.

Congress, industry leaders contend, has left them few options. Federal law, they say, requires employers to give notice of 60 days to workers facing layoffs.

For President Barack Obama and congressional incumbents, the timing couldn’t be worse. With the automatic cuts, called sequestration, set to begin taking effect on Jan. 2, the layoff notices would have to be sent out by Nov. 2 — four days before this fall’s elections.

“I’ve been told by some of our major employers that layoff notices are going to come before the election,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), a member of the Armed Services Committee and a vocal critic of the automatic cuts. “It’s dangerous and irresponsible for Congress to play with this.”

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Vanishing acts and other news

Tracking Gaddafi: The case against the Canadian accused of aiding a dictator’s son
Stewart Bell – (National Post) –  MEXICO CITY – March 24, 2012 –  When a dictatorship falls, the old regime takes flight.

And so when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi began losing his grip on Libya last year, a mixed bag of friends, allies and profiteers went to work planning exile for those close to him.

A town near Puerto Vallarta was the soft landing chosen for Saadi Gaddafi, the dictator’s hedonistic third son and head of the Libyan Special Forces. To get him there, according to Mexican officials, properties were purchased, planes were rented and passports were forged.

But if there was such a plot, it was a spectacular flop. Because instead of wading in the Pacific surf, Mr. Gaddafi ended up in Niger, a landlocked sandbox, while the Canadian, Dane and two Mexicans accused of orchestrating his escape are behind bars.

Because of Mexico’s closed legal system, few details of the case have been officially released. But documents obtained by the National Post reveal the events leading up to the arrests of Canadian Cynthia Vanier, who has denied the allegations, and her co-accused.

The paper trail identifies for the first time the international team of private security contractors that left Canada with Ms. Vanier last year in a small jet, destined for Col. Gaddafi’s collapsing capital. But it also raises doubts about the reliability of the evidence presented in court by Mexican authorities — in particular a central witness with a criminal past.

Aside from a stint negotiating for the release of hostages in Colombia, Ms. Vanier, a mediator from Mount Forest, Ont., had no apparent experience in war zones when she was hired to write a report on Libya, then five months into an armed revolt against its brutal, erratic dictator.

SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based engineering and construction company, said it contracted her “in the interest of the safety and security of our personnel and operations when we will need to go back to Libya to complete our projects.”

A chain of emails shows planning got underway on July 12, 2011. Gregory Gillispie, who runs a San Diego airplane brokerage, was asked by Loren Berenda, a former employee of U.S. security giant DynCorp, in Illinois, to find a jet to transport the Canadian and her entourage. (Click HERE for article)

Pressure Mounts for Transparency in Pfc. Manning’s Court-Martial
Adam Klasfeld – (Courthouse News) – MANHATTAN – March 22, 2012 – A lawyer from a civil libertarian group representing Wikileaks and Julian Assange urged a military judge to release records related to the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged source for the biggest leak in U.S. history.

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Lockheed Martin Corporation Reaches $15.85 Million Settlement with U.S. to Resolve FCA Allegations

“It is troubling that a large defense contractor with long-established contractual ties with the United States failed to undertake appropriate measures to ensure the integrity and validity of the costs it submitted to the United States,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

U.S. Alleges Lockheed Subcontractor Inflated Costs for Military Aircraft Tools That Were Passed on to Government

(DoJ) – WASHINGTON – March 23, 2012 – Lockheed Martin Corporation has agreed to pay $15,850,000 to settle allegations that it mischarged perishable tools used on numerous government contracts, the Department of Justice announced today.  Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., is one of the world’s largest defense contractors.
 
Today’s settlement resolves allegations arising out of a pricing scheme by Tools & Metals Inc. (TMI), a subcontractor that sold perishable tools to Lockheed Martin for use on military aircraft, including the F-22 and the F-35 fighter jets.  Specifically, the allegations here are based on TMI’s inflating of the costs of these tools between 1998 and 2005.  The government alleged that Lockheed Martin passed these costs on to the United States under its various contracts with the government.  On Dec. 8, 2005, Todd B. Loftis, a former president of TMI, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years in prison in connection with his role in TMI’s scheme.

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Look who’s whining now, the “chilling effects” of Pentagon budget cuts

USG Contractor

The war in Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. The United States is inching its way out of the worst recession in history. The one industry that has continued to thrive, while everyone else has held on fearing for their future, is the defense industry. During the political divisions, or maybe diversions is a more accurate term, within both the House and Senate, the lobbyists have seen to it their fat cat clients are untouchable.

Now, the gravy train is slowly coming to a stop and a sense panic appears to be descending on the corner offices of DoD contractors everywhere.

The prospect of budget cuts is having a “chilling effect” on the defense industry and companies such as Lockheed may stop hiring and training, Stevens, chairman and chief executive of the world’s largest defense contractor, said today at a conference in Washington. ~ Automatic Pentagon Cuts Must Be Stopped, Lockheed Chief Says

I am certain I’m not the first to say this, “It is about f’ing time these companies got off the taxpayer’s teat.” Read the remainder of this entry »