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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.
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 »
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.
Database lists fraud and shoddy work
Bryan Bender, Globe Staff - August 30, 2010 – WASHINGTON — Defense companies and other major industries are hoping to block disclosure of their own fraudulent or substandard performance in federal contracts, despite a mandate this year by Congress that such potentially embarrassing information be released to the public.
Sensitive to concerns raised by the companies, the White House has delayed enacting the little-known disclosure provision while it studies the issue, officials said.
The controversy highlights the extent to which efforts to make the government more transparent often garner bipartisan support but then stall in the face of powerful interests seeking to limit public disclosure.
The White House, in a statement, acknowledged that “there will be legal and practical issues’’ that have to be addressed before the new law can be implemented.
“But we intend to do that as quickly as possible, in keeping with the administration’s commitment to increasing transparency in government contracting,’’ said Meg Reilly, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget.
At issue is a database that is currently kept secret, called the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System. Companies are required to fill the database with information about their failures on federal contracts, including civil, criminal, and administrative findings against them.
The database was established in 2008 for the private use of government officials who oversee contracts, but was not intended to be made public.
Contractors complain that disclosing all that information could lead to the unfair use of damaging information by watchdog groups, the media, and their rivals.
But Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, an independent who managed this summer to win a disclosure provision in a war spending bill that was signed by President Obama, said the public has a right to know when taxpayer dollars are improperly used or criminally misspent.
“We hand out over $500 billion a year to federal contractors, many of which have well-established histories of systemic illegal, fraudulent, and incompetent behavior,’’ Sanders said in a statement. “We cannot let these corporations continue to rip off American taxpayers. I strongly expect that this new public awareness will go a long way toward putting an end to handing out taxpayer-financed contracts to corporations with a history of fraud.’’