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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)
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.
“When I served four years in the military, it wasn’t so that Bechtel, KBR, Halliburton and all the other corporations could make money and buy politicians to further drag out the war and create policies that support all that,” Bodell said. “I fought for the Constitution, for representation and for freedom of the American people.” ~ Kole Bodell, Salt Lake City, UT
Ex-officer indicted for coercing soldiers
(Windsor Star) – January 21, 2012 – A former Danish officer has been indicted for threatening to send troops under his command to the Afghan front line if they refuse to pay a fine for certain errors, website Politiken said Friday.
The 33-year-old, in charge of a royal guard unit in Afghanistan, “put pressure on a number of soldiers in Afghanistan daily to contribute to a system of illegal financial penalties,” said the website.
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.
Beyond missteps, military crime lab roils with discontent
Marisa Taylor – (McClatchy Newspapers) – Washington – June 25, 2011 – The military’s premier crime lab should be a place of sober scientific research, but lately it seems more like the set of a soap opera consumed with scandal and intrigue.
In less than four years, at least six internal investigations have been launched and six complaints filed against managers. The accusations and counter-accusations include racism, sexual harassment, assault and fraud.
The disputes have embroiled top managers and pitted them against one another. The lab’s former lawyer says she was retaliated against for blowing the whistle. The military counters that she made off with official records.
Amid the upheaval and finger-pointing, a lab analyst was convicted of embezzling almost $70,000 from a professional association to pay for his gambling addiction.
“The place is a rat’s nest,” said Mike Jellison, a former firearms examiner who worked at the lab for 14 years. “It’s not conducive to science.” (Click HERE for article)
Agility Wins Logistics Company Of The Year Award In Kuwait
(Logistics Online) – Kuwait City – June 24, 2011 – a leading global logistics provider, has been honored with the “Logistics Company of the Year” award by Arabian Business, a well respected business publication in the region. The award was presented to Agility during the recent Arabian Business Achievement Award ceremony in Kuwait and honors Agility’s success and position as the leading logistics provider in Kuwait.
Meanwhile, the owners and officers of some contractors that weren’t paying federal taxes had significant personal assets, including a sports team, a high-performance airplane, commercial properties, multimillion-dollar homes and luxury vehicles, the GAO said in its 2007 report. ~ Tom Shean – Virginian-Pilot~
History Facts for May 22
Tax requirement delayed, to the relief of companies
Tom Shean – (The Virginian-Pilot) – May 22, 2011 – Companies doing business with the federal government have a bit more breathing room from what some say is an onerous tax provision.
Earlier this month, the IRS delayed for another year a government plan for holding back 3 percent of the amounts paid to federal contractors.
The program, designed to cover contractors’ tax liabilities, originally was scheduled to take effect at the beginning of 2011. The date was pushed back two years ago to 2012. Now it’s Jan. 1, 2013.
Still, “it will be a cash-flow nightmare” for smaller defense contractors, especially those with modest profit margins, predicted Gregg N. Funkhouser, partner in charge of government contracting for the CPA firm Dixon Hughes Goodman.
While the average profit margin for his defense-contractor clients is 7 percent, the margins for some are as low as 1 percent, and these companies likely will suffer, Funkhouser said during a presentation in Norfolk last week. (Click HERE for article)