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At least Congress agrees on something – stop aiding and abetting government contractors’ that profit from slavery

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

Portman, Blumenthal Secure Inclusion of Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation in Defense Bill

Office of Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) – Washington, D.C.- Novemeber 30, 2012 – Yesterday, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) secured inclusion of the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S.2234) in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (S.3254).  Earlier this month, Portman and Blumenthal launched the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking.  The caucus will bring Senators together to combat human trafficking by promoting awareness, removing demand, supporting prosecution efforts, and providing appropriate service systems for survivors.

Despite the U.S. government’s zero tolerance human trafficking policy, investigations have found that human trafficking by government contractors and subcontractors who operate overseas is still an issue. For example, in 2011, the Commission on Wartime Contracting – an independent, bipartisan legislative commission established to study wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan – concluded that “[e]xisting prohibitions on such trafficking have failed to suppress it.” The commission also concluded that “evidence of the recurrent problem of trafficking in persons by labor brokers or subcontractors of contingency contractors.”

More than 70,000 third-country nationals work for contractors and subcontractors of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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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Audit free zones and other news

GSA Employees Who Work from Home Racked Up $750,000 in Travel Expenses
Matt Bewig – (AllGov) - June 03, 2012 – The Public Buildings Service (PBS) of the General Services Administration (GSA) has yet another scandal on its hands. PBS has been plagued by a series of scandals since April 2008, when GSA Administrator Lurita Doan was asked by the Bush White House to resign because of serious allegations of conflicts of interest and use of federal properties managed by PBS for partisan purposes, which is prohibited by the Hatch Act. Her successor, Martha Johnson, was brought in by President Obama to clean things up, but she had to resign in April 2012 after the release of an inspector general’s report that bluntly detailed wasteful spending for a PBS training conference for 300 people in Henderson, Nevada, which cost $822,751, or $2,742.50 per person. (Click HERE for article)

Virginia-based Defense Contractor Calnet to Pay $18.1 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Lawsuit
(DoJ) – June 1, 2012 – Calnet Inc. has agreed to pay the United States $18.1 million to resolve allegations that the company submitted false claims to the Department of Defense, the Justice Department announced today. Calnet Inc., an intelligence analysis, information technology and language services company, is headquartered in Reston, Virginia.

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Arrested developments and other news

Report: TRC Folded In Inquiry
Haines City firm faced accusations of supplying Army with bad gyroscopes.
Kyle Kennedy – (The Ledger) – HAINES CITY – May 20, 2012 – When Technology Research Consultants landed in Polk County in 2003, the company shined with promise.

But about five years later, the celebrated defense contractor abruptly shut down. Until now, the reason behind its exit has been a mystery.

TRC, which made gyroscopes for the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters, secured millions of dollars’ worth of government contracts and eventually grew to more than 70 employees at the firm’s headquarters in Haines City. Local business and economic development leaders hoped TRC’s award-winning success might attract interest from other technology firms.

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Some top military brass making more in pension than pay

From 2004 through 2008, 80 percent of retiring three- and four-star officers went to work as consultants or defense executives, according to the Globe analysis. That compares with less than 50 percent who followed that path a decade earlier, from 1994 to 1998. ~Bryan Bender – From Pentagon to the private sector

The authorization act expanded the existing $693,951 cap “to cover all contractor employees (instead of only a company’s five most highly paid executives, as provided in current law),” a Senate Armed Services Committee summary stated. The law made an exception for scientists and engineers “if necessary to ensure continued DoD access to needed skills and capabilities.” ~Charles S. Clark – White House reopens debate over contractor pay

Tom Vanden Brook – (USA TODAY) – February 2, 2012 – A change in federal law to keep experienced officers in uniform allows top generals and admirals to make more in retirement than they did on active duty, Pentagon and congressional records show.

The new pension rules were part of the 2007 Defense Authorization Act to address concerns that the military would lose too many experienced generals and admirals during wartime.

In January, when most service members will receive a 2.2 percent basic pay raise, their smallest in 12 years, America’s 36 four-star generals and admirals, and its 125 lieutenant generals and vice admirals, will see basic pay climb by 8.7 percent, or $1100 a month. ~Tom Philpott – Star-Rank Retired Pay Jumps

Previously , the maximum annual pension was based on an officer’s pay at 26 years of service. Now, a four-star officer retiring in 2011 with 38 years’ experience would get a yearly pension of about $219,600, a jump of $84,000, or 63% beyond what was once allowed. A three-star officer with 35 years’ experience would get about $169,200 a year, up about $39,000, or 30%.

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