If you have information or stories about the activities of Defense Security Service (formerly DIS) and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense and owner of Sullivan/Haave Associates, Carol Haave, and other related areas in DOD and are willing to share it, please contact me.
I am researching in this area now and would like to speak to people who have personal knowlege of what all has gone on for the past decade or two.
State Department Agents Say Jobs Were Threatened By Glenn Kessler and Karen DeYoung The Washington Post
Saturday 29 September 2007
Investigators in IG office were told not to cooperate with probe of their boss, house panel alleges.
Two career investigators in the office of State Department Inspector General Howard J. Krongard have charged that they were threatened with firing if they cooperated with a congressional probe of Krongard and his office.
Told by Terry P. Heide, Krongard's congressional liaison, that he should not agree to a request for a "voluntary" interview by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Special Agent Ron Militana said he was then advised that reprisals could be taken against him. "Howard can fire you," he said Heide told him. "It would affect your ability to get another job."
Militana said in a telephone interview yesterday that he took that comment and others as direct threats. He and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Rubendall, another career investigator who was also present at the Sept. 25 meeting with Heide and an IG lawyer, are among at least four IG investigators who have sought protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act. They also include the assistant inspector general for investigations and his deputy, who recently resigned after charging Krongard with impeding their work.
In recent weeks, the agents relayed their concerns about Krongard to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the oversight panel. Waxman has said he is investigating allegations that Krongard has repeatedly thwarted investigations into alleged contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, including construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and weapons smuggling allegations against Blackwater USA, a private security firm working under government contract in Iraq. The committee has scheduled a hearing on Oct. 16.
Waxman first revealed the details of the meeting in which Militana and Rubendall said they were threatened in a letter he sent yesterday to Krongard and posted on the committee's Web site. "I am appalled by these reports," Waxman wrote. "As an Inspector General, you hold a position of special trust within the federal government. Your office is supposed to be an example of how to protect whistleblowers, not an example of how to persecute them."
He said that the agents originally were cooperating anonymously but that they had decided to go public after the reprisal threats.
Krongard's office issued a statement yesterday saying that "the Office of the Inspector General has cooperated with and will continue to cooperate with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's investigation. Furthermore, the OIG will continue to make any OIG employee available to speak with the committee, if they choose."
Heide, the IG congressional liaison, confirmed in an interview that she had called the meeting with Militana and Rubendall, along with John M. Smith of the IG's legal counsel's office. But "the conversation was not as reported," she said. Waxman "selected certain statements out of context to make a particular case that does not exist. I categorically deny that I was telling them they would be retaliated against."
She said that the agents apparently "did not mention all the parts where I told them they were to tell the truth, they were to fully cooperate, that the Office of the IG and the IG himself was fully cooperating."
No one from the committee had contacted her before the letter was posted online. Waxman, Heide said tearfully, "has hurt somebody. I mean, this is my career." Her job, she said, "is simply to provide information. That's what I was doing."
J. Keith Ausbrook, minority counsel for the committee, also took exception to Waxman's tactics, saying that committee Republicans were "deeply concerned" with the letter. "It seems to us to be an example of shooting first and asking questions later," he said. Ausbrook emphasized that "we don't want to minimize" the seriousness of the alleged threats. "We are concerned about this as well. But we are also concerned about the way the majority has proceeded to deal with it."
The Senate confirmed President Bush's nomination of Krongard, who had no previous State Department experience, in May 2005. He previously worked for an international law firm and had been general counsel for Deloitte & Touche in the mid-1990s. His brother, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, served as the No. 3 CIA official under then-Director George J. Tenet.
Howard Krongard's office, charged with oversight of State Department contracts and operations, has competed with the congressionally appointed Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). He was closely involved in unsuccessful administration efforts to shut down SIGIR's operations when its funding and mandate ran out last year, according to a source closely involved in internal administration discussions of the matter who declined to speak on the record.
State Department contracts in Iraq became a target for Waxman when he became chairman of the oversight committee in January. Krongard's operations have been the subject of several hearings. In a 13-page letter to Krongard on Sept. 18, Waxman charged that the inspector general had "interfered with ongoing investigations to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment."
The letter, which Waxman said was based on allegations by seven current and former members of Krongard's staff, alleged that Krongard had refused to send investigators to Iraq and Afghanistan to investigate $3 billion worth of State Department contracts and had impeded a Justice Department probe into the construction of the embassy in Baghdad. It also included an internal e-mail that indicated Krongard had intervened to stop his office from cooperating with a Justice Department investigation into alleged arms smuggling by Blackwater. In a North Carolina case, two Blackwater employees have pleaded guilty to weapons charges and are cooperating with Justice officials.
On Monday, September 17, 2007, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL) introduced the "Federal Merit System Reauthorization Act. The Act reauthorizes the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit System's Protection Board (MSPB) for three years. The shorter reauthorization period will allow Congress to review OSC's and MSPB's implementation of the new provisions in the Act before being reauthorized for a longer period of time. The bill has been passed by his Subcommittee.
GENEVA – The European Union said on Wednesday U.S. subsidies for Boeing Co. had caused Airbus billions of dollars of damage in recent years and described the U.S. response to the charges as weak.
The European Union and the United States are embroiled in a row over the multi-billion-dollar large civil aircraft business, with each accusing the other of unfair state aid for their plane builders.
The dispute goes beyond stakes in a market worth about $80 billion a year for big jets and touches on sensitive defence concerns as Boeing and Airbus parent EADS are major defence aerospace suppliers.
Both Washington and Brussels have filed complaints at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which are being considered by a three-person dispute panel.
In the latest panel hearings on Wednesday, the European Union laid out details of U.S. aid for Boeing and dismissed U.S. defence arguments as ineffective or misleading.
In the EU's case against Boeing, the European Union says unfair U.S. subsidies to Boeing over the past two decades and running to 2024 total $23.7 billion.
The United States accuses Europe of granting $205 billion in illegal launch aid, including theoretical interest on the aid, to Airbus, now a fully-owned subsidiary of EADS.
Each side must prove that the other paid illegal subsidies and that their own industry suffered damage as a result.
'Boeing is relying on a smoke screen of inflated numbers and broad brush accusations,' said Geoff Shuman, Airbus director of European affairs. 'We will produce the cold facts to demonstrate subsidy by subsidy how U.S. subsidies have benefited Boeing and injured Airbus interests,' he told reporters.
Between 2004 and 2006, Boeing received subsidies of roughly $5 billion used to keep down the price of Boeing aircraft and facilitate the early launch of Boeing's superior fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner, an EU official said. As a result Airbus lost $27 billion in revenue in that period.
But the United States says the EU complaint greatly exaggerates the amounts involved.
'The EU's claims are to distract attention from its own massive subsidies,' Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative, said in a statement.
Airbus says Boeing is exaggerating the amount of launch aid it received.
The EU's charges revolve around two main forms of aid.
It says Boeing received tax breaks from local authorities including a $4 billion package from Washington state. The United States says these tax breaks were available to any business, but the EU said they had been specifically negotiated with Boeing.
The EU also charges that work Boeing did for the U.S. aerospace agency NASA and Defense Department amounted to disguised subsidies worth $16.6 billion.
Washington says this was properly contracted research, and that in any case under U.S. law military technology cannot be used on civil aircraft that can be exported or flown abroad.
But the European Union says some military technology can be used to construct civil aircraft even if it is not part of the finished plane, and research grants were not repaid.
U.S. officials also ask how Airbus can argue it suffered harm from any subsidies, if there were any, as its market share rose to 57 percent in 2005 from 37 percent in 2001.
Airbus's market share slipped to 54 percent last year but U.S. officials say any setbacks it suffered were due to design problems on its A350 and a misplaced decision to promote the mammoth and subsequently delayed double-decker A380.
Sales of the two are now running neck and neck, but Boeing is edging ahead
Congress has recently taken great strides toward holding wartime contractors accountable. Last week Senators James Webb (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced a legislative initiative to establish an independent and bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting. POGO sent Senators Webb and McCaskill a letter to offer support for the bill, which would help to alleviate the burden placed on taxpayers due to waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of wartime contracts.
The bill is currently at a crucial juncture; we need your help to ensure its passage. Please call or write your Senators today and ask them to support "The Commission on Wartime Contracting Act" (S. 1825) so that wartime contractors can be held to account for their misconduct.
Sincerely, Danielle Brian Executive Director Project On Government Oversight
Click here to view POGO's most recent press releases.
The Department of Homeland Security “virtual fence” project, being built by Boeing, is in big, big trouble. The virtual fence is a high-tech network of cameras, lighting, sensors, and technology designed to intercept illegal border crossings. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Boeing Co. has changed the management of an electronic-surveillance project along the U.S.-Mexican border after falling more than two months behind schedule, marking the complications involved in setting up a new generation of border security.
The project, part of a larger Department of Homeland Security program called SBInet, is a critical link in the plan to use technology to monitor the borders for illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and possible terrorists. Towers set up along a stretch of the border near Nogales, Ariz., are supposed to use motion sensors, cameras and radar to keep track of wide areas. According to the government, Boeing has had trouble getting the different components to work together without glitches.
The government’s plans for monitoring as much as 6,000 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders hinge on towers such as these working properly. If they prove ineffective, officials could be forced to spend billions of dollars for more traditional security measures, such as fences and more officers. The Homeland Security Department currently estimates that the virtual fence will cost about $8 billion through 2013, although the agency’s inspector general wrote last November that the cost could balloon to $30 billion.
In Washington, U.S. Congressional representatives are already bristling at the skyrocketing costs of SBInet. Since Boeing won the contract last year, the estimated cost of securing the southwest border has gone from $2.5 billion to an estimated $8 billion just a few months later. When Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter asked SBInet Director Giddens for the real costs at a February 2007 hearing of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, Giddens replied: “I wish I could answer that with greater clarity.”
At the same Congressional hearings, Boeing vice president and SBInet program manager, Jerry McElwee, took heat from Congressman William Lacy Clay who demanded information about the ballooning costs and the extension of the contract period. “You bid on these contracts and then you come back and say, ‘Oh we need more time. It costs more than twice as much.’ Are you gaming the taxpayers here? Or gaming DHS?” the Missouri Democrat asked.
DHS’s own inspector general, Richard Skinner, says that the Boeing contract is in the “high-risk” category for waste and abuse because of its scope, its dollar value, and “the vulnerabilities stemming from the lack of acquisition management capacity.”
A major concern is the pyramid-like management structure that critics say have led to cost overruns and poor quality in other major projects. They note that the multiple subcontracting tiers allow Boeing to exact a cut at every turn, and create a conflict of interest because the company is also in charge of oversight.
This failure has the potential to eventually rival the UK National Health Service disaster, known affectionately as the “greatest IT disaster in history.” It also brings back memories of the Airbus failure, in which multiple project segments failed to work when brought together as a finished unit.
The level of planning and coordination required to complete a project like this on time and budget almost defies human capability. Why don’t they break it down into smaller, simpler components, increasing the likelihood the thing can actually be built?
Contact: Jim Cross PHONE: 316-269-6481 FAX: 316-269-6420
July 16, 2007
BOEING TO PAY UNITED STATES $1 MILLION TO SETTLE DISPUTE OVER KC-135 REFITTING
WICHITA, KAN. – The Boeing Company has agreed to pay the United States more than $1 million to settle allegations that it improperly billed for materials used to install new engines in KC-135 aircraft.
“Our investigation focused on requests for payment that Boeing made in 1998 through 2003 for materials used in modernizing KC-135 and RC-135 aircraft,” said U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren. “As a result of that investigation, the government alleged that Boeing double billed for materials.”
The investigation involved charges for “panstock,” which includes nuts, bolts, rivets and fasteners used in the re-engining process. The government alleged that panstock charges were included in the contract, and that it was being doubled billed when Boeing charged separately for the materials.
Boeing alleged that the transfer of the costs was allowed under the contract and that the charges were not improper.
Under the settlement agreement, Boeing will pay $1,093,236, which represents a refund of the charges at issue plus interest.
“Protecting the government from fraud and abuse and ensuring accountability in the way federal tax dollars are spent is important,” Melgren said.
The case was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas. Melgren commended the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurie Kahrs for their work on the case.
July’s hearing on the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) leads us to this conclusion: Special Counsel Scott Bloch is hopelessly over his head in his job to defend the federal civil service merit system. To restore legitimacy for the office, he must resign or be removed by the president for cause.
Bloch’s mission is to shield federal employees from retaliation and the civil service from political interference. But his mismanagement casts a cloud over OSC career staff members, who remain effective when allowed to do their jobs.
Productivity has plummeted, including a drop in help for whistleblowers. According to OSC’s own reports, the number of “favorable actions” OSC obtained for whistleblowers, its primary constituency, fell from 98 in fiscal 2002 — the last full year of the previous special counsel — to 40 in fiscal 2006. The figure of 40 is an inflated one considering that OSC broadened its definition of favorable actions in 2005.
The House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on the federal work force met July 12 on the agency’s reauthorization. But the hearing degenerated when Bloch was confronted with charges of authorizing the leak of a draft OSC report to the media.
Special Counsel Bloch actively defends the merit system only when it serves his own political self-interest.
Indeed, shortly after the new Democratic Congress took over, Bloch opened a broad-based investigation of efforts by White House officials, including Karl Rove, to politicize the civil service. This was announced just as reports surfaced that a White House investigation of OSC employees’ allegations of Bloch’s own illegal gag orders and of whistleblower retaliation against OSC staff is nearing a conclusion.
Meanwhile, federal employees have been left out in the cold. Our analysis of OSC’s annual reports indicates that the percentage of complainants helped by OSC, 2.49 percent, is the lowest since the Whistleblower Protection Act’s 1989 passage.
At a Senate reauthorization hearing in March, Bloch blamed the whistleblowers. The “quality” of complaints has dropped, he said. He assured Congress he wants to find “the good” in whistleblower complaints so badly that he engages in “Where’s Waldo?” game strategies with his staff.
There is an easier way to help employees than playing games: Listen and allow staff members to make an honest effort.
Government employees do not view OSC as a reliable outlet for their concerns, and with good reason.
OSC whistleblower Natresha Dawson is a poster child for what has gone wrong. After May 2005 Senate hearings, Bloch responded to senators’ criticisms that his agency was no longer communicating with those who seek OSC help by creating a Customer Service Unit (CSU).
Dawson, who staffed the new unit, was bewildered when she was gagged from telling any of the staff who work on cases about her discussions with complainants. She was serving only as an irrelevant diversion. When she appealed to Bloch, she was gagged from communicating again with him under threat of termination. After eight months, the CSU was dismantled and Dawson was terminated. She has filed a Whistleblower Protection Act complaint.
Federal employees can hardly count on Bloch to defend them from the same harassment tactics he perfects against his own staff.
OSC has become an object of contempt among the constituencies it supposedly serves. But there is a real need for a credible special counsel. Relevant congressional committees are working diligently to overhaul the legal rules governing OSC’s work. This is an important step. Unfortunately, it is not possible to legislate commitment, competence or leadership.
Tom Devine is legal director and Adam Miles is the legislative representative of the Government Accountability Project.
I received a post today from someone which was a blog from Kevin Stoda in Kuwait, which he had posted on GNN (Guerilla News Network).I share this here for those of you interested in reading on…
He expressed concern that POGO (Project on Government Oversight needed more support and awareness, and that federal whistleblowers needed the same.
He reports that he saw signs in the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait encouraging employees and people visiting the public services sector, to whistleblow “if and when they need to.”
He further explains that the posters indicated that there were certain rights that a person had to blow the whistle on corruption and other bureaucratic malfeasance when observed on site.He also stated this is appropriate as the U.S. Embassy“tries to promote a decrease in corrupt practices in the Middle East by shining its light on a variety of shenanigans and illegal mistreatment ofcompanies, and individuals by employers, local government officials, and various businesses in the region.”
He encouraged people to go to the POGO site (www.pogo.org) andlook over the stories and announcements including what is going on in the Senate, in particular what they are doing to try to increase oversight over businesses where allegations of “War Profiteering and Corruption” were taking place.He noted that the bill was similar to Truman era type (WWII), oversight.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 — Military officials said Thursday that contracts worth $6 billion to provide essential supplies to American troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan — including food, water and shelter — were under review by criminal investigators, double the amount the Pentagon had previously disclosed.
In addition, $88 billion in contracts and programs, including those for body armor for American soldiers and matériel for Iraqi and Afghan security forces, are being audited for financial irregularities, the officials said.
Taken together, the figures, provided by the Pentagon in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, represent the fullest public accounting of the magnitude of a widening government investigation into bid-rigging, bribery and kickbacks by members of the military and civilians linked to the Pentagon’s purchasing system.
Until the hearing on Thursday, the Army’s most detailed public disclosure about the scale of the problem was that contracts worth $3 billion awarded by the Kuwait office were under review.
At the hearing, a panel of high-ranking Defense Department officials described a war-zone procurement system in disarray. They said that the Pentagon failed to provide adequate training for contracting officers for their assignments, offered insufficient oversight of contracting officers’ activities and had not put in place early warning systems to catch officers who violated the law.
“In a combat environment, we didn’t have the checks and balances we should have in place,” said Shay D. Assad, director of defense procurement and acquisition policy. “So people who don’t have ethics and integrity are going to be able to get away with things.”
Representatives from both parties pummeled the panel with angry questions and comments, assailing the Pentagon for having failed to overhaul the procurement system more than two years after Congress had identified serious problems in defense contracting and passed legislation aimed at helping the Pentagon correct them.
The lawmakers also challenged assertions by the Pentagon officials that the corruption being uncovered was the work of a few isolated individuals. Several committee members suggested that the abuses were far more systemic.
“The problems were so severe that I fear they could represent a culture of corruption,” said Representative Ike Skelton, Democrat of Missouri, the chairman of the committee. “I am extremely disappointed to learn that so many individuals violated their integrity and undermined the oaths they made to this country.”
Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican and retired Marine colonel, said he was “doubly, triply, quadruply appalled” at the “clear breakdown in leadership” that allowed some Army contracting officers to corrupt the procurement system. He said it was inexcusable that it took so long for the Army to put adequate checks in place.
Pentagon officials did not dispute the seriousness of the problems. However, they took issue with lawmakers’ characterizations of their scope. “I think it’s isolated incidents,” said Thomas F. Gimble, the principal deputy Pentagon inspector general. “The real issue is a lack of control, a lack of integrity and lots of opportunity and lots of money.”
Mr. Gimble and the other Pentagon officials said they were working aggressively to identify officers and civilians responsible for crimes and turn them over for prosecution, increasing the numbers of contracting officers and lawyers in Kuwait and improving the contracts and ethics training they provide to their specialists.
The Pentagon officials said that they would turn the largest contracts in Kuwait over to more seasoned military procurement specialists in the United States and that they had set up a more rigorous set of contract review procedures. And the Pentagon inspector general has been sent to Iraq to investigate the department’s contracting procedures.
“I don’t think it was a widespread conspiracy or cultural issue,” said Lt. Gen. N. Ross Thompson 3rd of the Army, a senior procurement official who is co-leader of an Army review of contracting procedures in Kuwait and Iraq. “We’ve got a number of individual cases. All the ones we know about are being actively investigated. We’ve got internal controls to make sure there aren’t new problems in different areas.”
As of Sept. 12, the Army reported that it had 78 cases of fraud and corruption under investigation, had obtained 20 criminal indictments, and had uncovered over $15 million in bribes.
Lawmakers scolded the Pentagon for just recently ordering the creation of a special contracting corps of experienced procurement specialists — authorized in the legislation two years ago — to bolster purchasing teams in the most active combat zones, and to report directly to a regional military commander.
“That it’s taken two years to do this is an indication of a system that’s quite slow,” said Representative Duncan Hunter of California, the senior Republican on the committee. “That’s half the time it took to win World War II.”