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Neil Gordon: Army of One … Contractor

Neil Gordon – (POGO) – January 11, 2013 – Mark Thompson posted an interesting federal contracting-related tidbit Tuesday on TIME’s national security blog, Battleland. He looked at a list of recent Department of Defense contract awards and noticed that many of them had received only one bid.

Of the 35 contracts in the list that Thompson reviewed, 20 of them, worth a combined $257 million, either solicited or received just a single bid. On many of them, including contracts awarded to big players such as Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), General Dynamics, Raytheon, and BAE Systems , the government solicited only one bid. Federal agencies are required to award contracts on the basis of full and open competition but are permitted to award non-competitive contracts in certain situations. The U.S. Army awarded 19 of the 20 contracts, which makes us wonder if the Army is perhaps taking its old “Army of One” slogan a bit too literally when it comes to contracting.

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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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That bird won’t fly and other news

Hold that Revolving Door! Four-Star General Coming Through
Dana Liebelson – (POGO) – January 28, 2012 – The revolving door that carried former Department of Defense honcho William Lynn III to a well-paying job with an Italian defense contractor keeps on spinning – now Gen. James Cartwright, who retired as the nation’s second-highest ranking military officer in August, is following Lynn into the private sector.

Cartwright is joining the Board of Directors at Raytheon, a major U.S. defense contractor. Earlier in the week, DRS Technologies named Lynn as its chief executive officer. (Coincidently, before Lynn was tapped as deputy defense secretary, he was a top lobbyist for Raytheon.)

“General Cartwright’s deep understanding of defense and broad experience in military operations and matters of national security will be of great value to our Board,” Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson said in a press release.

Well, Cartwright certainly has a deep understanding of defense: He’s a four-star general with 40 years of service in the Marine Corps, including four years as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But then there’s that sticky “great value to the Board” comment. And that’s where the problem with the well-oiled revolving door that leads from the Pentagon to the defense industry rears its ugly head. (Click HERE for article)

Former United Nations Employee Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison
(DoJ) – WASHINGTON - January 27, 2012 – Jeffery K. Armstrong, 52, of South Riding, Va., was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for obtaining more than $100,000 in salary payments by fraudulently holding concurrent jobs at the United Nations (U.N.) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). He was ordered to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his sentence and to pay $128,153 in restitution.

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The Pentagon’s “revolution” & other news

Debarment Report Shows How Some Agencies Use it Well
Six agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor, had zero suspension and debarment cases during the past five fiscal years, GAO’s report states.
(Occupational Health & Safety) – November 20, 2011 – The federal government uses a practice named suspension and debarment to exclude firms or individuals from receiving contracts to provide goods or services if they have engaged in certain crimes, such as bribery or tax evasion, or violated certain statutes or regulations. A new Government Accountability Office report says four agencies use the process more effectively than others because they employ full-time staff, have detailed policies and procedures, and encourage an active referral process.

Fortunately, the four doing it right, according to the report, include the General Services Administration, which manages thousands of federal buildings and thus buys a great many contracted goods and services. The other three are the U.S. Navy, the Defense Logistics Agency, and DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit, known as ICE. (Click HERE for article)

Senators propose new cap on contractor pay
Charles S. Clark – (GovExec) – November 18, 2011 – As the Senate nears consideration of the Defense authorization bill, three senators have added a new wrinkle to the ongoing debate over the level of contractor executive compensation that should be reimbursed with taxpayer dollars.
 
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Senate Investigates Counterfeit Parts in Military Equipment

Senator Carl Levin

Washington, DC - November 8, 2011 – A Senate Armed Services Committee investigation found over a million suspect parts in the Pentagon’s supply chain, mostly from China. Committee leaders say the counterfeit parts are a danger to U.S. troops and cost taxpayers.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and ranking Republican John McCain (R-AZ) gave several examples during a Monday news conference where the Defense Department had to replace faulty electronics at taxpayer expense. One was counterfeit transistors in a helicopter night vision system. In another instance a cockpit video display on an Air Force C-27J transport plane had bogus memory chips that could cause it to display the wrong information.

Testifying at a hearing today on the matter will be the head of the Missile Defense Agency, as well as officials from defense contracting companies Raytheon, L-3 Communications, and Boeing. Additional testimonies will include a government investigator and representatives of companies that distribute the potentially faulty components. (Click HERE for original article) (Click HERE for background Memo) (Click HERE for webcast of Hearing)

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