From Courthouse News Service July 7, 2011
WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Defense has issued regulations to ensure private military contractor employees accompanying U.S. Armed Forces are made aware of the agency’s definition of sexual assault.
The regulations clarify that many of the offenses addressed in the definition are covered under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The regulations also require contractors to make employees aware that some sexual assault offenses in the definition are not covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but they may nevertheless have consequences to contractor employees.
“[T]he term ‘sexual assault’ is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, forcible sodomy (oral or anal sex), and other unwanted sexual contact that is aggravated, abusive, or wrongful (to include unwanted and inappropriate sexual contact), or attempts to commit these acts,” according to Department of Defense Directive 6495.01 E2.1.13, as amended in 2008. The same section also defines consent.
Bloomberg News June 29, 2011
L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL), whose biggest investor is pushing for the defense company to dispose of underperforming assets, may extract as much as $2.2 billion more for shareholders in a takeover than a breakup.
L-3’s equity may garner a price tag of $12.9 billion in an acquisition, based on the median 8.7 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization offered for military electronics company deals in the past 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Selling the New York-based company’s four units separately may generate $10.7 billion, estimates from Lazard Capital Markets LLC show.
The Justice Department is investigating the mishandling of remains at Arlington National Cemetery in a broad criminal inquiry that is also seeking evidence of possible contracting fraud and falsification of records, people familiar with the investigation said Tuesday.
A federal grand jury in Alexandria has been subpoenaing witnesses and records relating to the scandal at the nation’s most venerated military burial ground, sources said. The investigation, conducted by the FBI and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, has been underway for at least six months, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The Justice Department’s investigation significantly escalates the level of scrutiny faced by the cemetery, and the probe joins several ongoing inquiries by Congress, which last year passed a law mandating that the cemetery verify that remains are properly accounted for at every one of its 330,000 graves. The law also requires the Government Accountability Office to look into the cemetery’s contract management procedures, and whether the Army-run cemetery should be turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees 131 national cemeteries.
In a report released last June, the Army inspector general found widespread problems at the cemetery: a dysfunctional management system; millions wasted on information technology contracts that produced useless results; misplaced and misidentified remains; and at least four cases in which crematory urns had been dug up and dumped in a dirt pile.
Press release from PR Web June 29, 2011
Sallyport was awarded the Fire and Emergency Services contract for Iraq under the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP III). The Prime contractor for the LOGCAP in Iraq is Kellogg Brown & Root Services Inc, who provides basic life support services to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and civilian contract personnel.
Fire and Emergency Services is categorized as a “High Risk” job, and has many critical components. Recognizing Sallyport’s reputation in this critical sector, KBR sub-contracted the entire Fire and Emergency portion of the BLS to them. This allowed KBR to focus on what they do best, whilst benefiting from Sallyport’s industry-wide experience in protecting lives, fighting fire, and mitigating property damage.
The transition for this contract was exceptional; within 60 days, Sallyport had established an HQ in Baghdad, transitioned 21 sites across the country – an area the size of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama combined – and built an operational capacity of over 500 firefighters. This made Sallyport the largest contract fire department in the DoD, and the 78th largest fire department nationwide. Read the entire press release here
AP at Forbes June 29, 2011
McLEAN, Va. — Defense contractor SAIC Inc. and Tetra Tech Inc., an engineering and construction consultant for water and energy projects, said Wednesday that their joint venture received a contract to provide civilian police and criminal justice assistance to the U.S. Department of State.
Under the contract, Integrated Justice Systems International LLC will compete for task orders to provide technical assistance, training, logistics and infrastructure services to help the Department of State strengthen criminal justice systems in foreign countries.
The joint venture is one of six teams that can compete for task orders under the contract, the companies said. The multiple-award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract could be worth $10 billion, with one base year and four option years, the companies said.
by Greg Stohr at Bloomberg News June 27, 2011
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a lawsuit that accused two military contractors of abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, turning away an appeal by 26 onetime prisoners.
The inmates sought to sue CACI International Inc. (CACI), which helped interrogate prisoners at the facility, and Titan Corp., which provided translation services. Titan has since been renamed and is now part of L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL)
The inmates, who were civilian detainees, said they were subjected to abuses by CACI and Titan employees including beatings, sexual humiliation, exposure to extreme temperatures and rape. In court papers, the inmates said some prisoners were tortured into unconsciousness and several were murdered.
Abu Ghraib became an international embarrassment for the U.S. in 2004, when photographs surfaced showing guards mistreating inmates.
Fox Business Friday June 10, 2011
A surprising new government report shows that taxpayers have been footing the bill for retiree benefits not just for federal workers, but for independent freelance contractors who do work for the government as well.
And no one is watching the store to see if your tax dollars are being wasted.
Taxpayers for years have been covering private contractors’ retiree costs for things like pensions and health care, even though these workers are not on the federal payroll.
Taxpayers also cover these retiree costs for contractors’ spouses, too, and in some cases if contractors want to retire early (at age 50), just like regular federal workers, many can then get taxpayer-funded coverage, says an official at the Government Accountability office.
For the Department of Energy alone, overall this coverage cost taxpayers $6.8 billion over the last 10 years, according to the new GAO report recently sent to Congress. Nine out of ten dollars spent on the DOE’s annual budget goes towards contracts, including contractor retiree benefits.
Charley Keyes CNN Washington June 6, 2011
Commission on Wartime Contracting, has questioned whether the State Department is prepared to continue its work in Iraq, and protect American diplomats, once the U.S. military withdraws, now set for the end of this year.
“Our concerns remain very much alive,” the commission’s co-chairman, Christopher Shays, said in his opening statement.
Shays also focused on what he said was State Department refusal to document its rationale for not taking action against contractors officially recommended for suspension or disbarment.
That response approaches the borderline of government negligence,” Shays said.
The sole witness appearing before the panel was a senior State Department official, Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. He described how the department has increased its oversight of contractors. “We fully understand that we still have challenges ahead as we carry out our diplomatic missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations where we rely on contingency contracting,” Kennedy said. “But we believe we have instituted a sound foundation to carry us forward.”
Monday’s hearing is the latest in a steady drumbeat of criticism of the department’s warzone operations. The State Department Inspector General last week reported that for Iraq, “several key decisions have not been made, some plans cannot be finalized and progress is slipping in a number of areas.”
The Inspector General report said that security concerns and poor contractor performance are major hindrances to the completion of 5,405 projects valued at more than $15 billion.
And a report from the Commission of Wartime Contracting, released on Friday, said billions of dollars of training programs and public works projects — funded by American taxpayers — could be wasted in both Iraq and Afghanistan because the host governments don’t have the trained staff or money to sustain them when the U.S. departs.
A key question raised in the hearing is whether private security contractors can provide adequate protection to U.S. diplomats in Iraq now handled by the U.S. military.
Kennedy said the Pentagon would provide the State Department with more than $200 million of equipment, including 60 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs).
But the State Department will not have so-called counter-battery weapons systems that hone in on where firing is coming from and automatically fires back.
Shays said at no other time have American diplomats been asked to work in such dangerous circumstances. “Host governments cannot provide effective, customary security, there are no front lines and large terrorist organizations are trying to kill our people and anyone who works with them,” Shays said.
It is no secret that companies spend money lobbying Congress. But there’s a new wrinkle to the relationship between corporations and federal money.
Tess Vigeland: President Obama met with Congressional Republicans at the White House today. The agenda: coming to an agreement on the government’s ability to borrow. The debt ceiling. The big sticking point is whether spending cuts will be attached to that legislation.
But commentator Robert Reich wants another policy topic front and center. And he says, it too, has a lot to do with your taxpayer dollars.
Robert Reich: President Obama is mulling an executive order requiring that big government contractors disclose their political spending. He should stop their political spending altogether.
Take Lockheed Martin, the nation’s largest contractor. The company has received nearly $20 billion in federal contracts so far this year. It’s already spent more than $4 million lobbying Congress.
Lockheed has also been spending more than $3 million a year on political contributions to members of Congress that vote its way. And an undisclosed amount to the Aerospace Industries Association to lobby for a bigger Defense budget.
But wait a minute. You and I and other taxpayers are Lockheed’s biggest customer. As such, we are financing this political activity. It’s one of the most insidious conflicts of interest in American politics.
And Lockheed is hardly unique. The 10 biggest government contractors are all defense contractors. Every one of them gets most of its revenues from the federal government. And everyone uses a portion of that money to lobby for even more Defense contracts.
by T Christian Miller at Propublica June 1, 2011
For proof that the wheels of justice turn slowly for private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sometimes bog down all together, look no further than the indictment  this week of George H. Lee, American businessman.
A federal grand jury indicted Lee on charges that he allegedly paid bribes to military officers to win contracts for his company, Lee Dynamics International. The company, a family affair that included Lee’s son, Justin W. Lee (also indicted this week), provided bottled water, food, living quarters, and all kinds of everyday items that form the backbone of a military logistical operation. George Lee also stands accused of setting up fake bank accounts, buying airplane tickets for contracting officials, and sending them on spa trips.
According to prosecutors, Lee’s wrongdoing began back in 2004 — almost seven years ago.
Several military officials were held accountable for their roles in his schemes long ago. Maj. John Cockerham pleaded guilty to taking millions of dollars in bribes from Lee and received a 17-year prison sentence . Maj. Gloria Davis killed herself shortly after allegedly confessing to authorities that she had taken a $225,000 payment from Lee.
But it has proven exceptionally difficult to bring Lee himself to justice. Even the indictments this week do not signal the end of the hunt. Lee remains at large, perhaps in Kuwait or Dubai . His son is expected to appear in court in the U.S. The government barred Lee Dynamics from receiving further contracts in 2007.
The case provides further evidence of how difficult it is to secure convictions against private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, no matter how severe the crime. A number of private security guards accused of killing civilians have escaped sanction. Most notably, a judge dismissed  all charges in 2009 against five guards from the firm Blackwater for killing 17 Iraqis in a well-publicized shooting in Nisour square.
After nearly a decade of war, few mechanisms exist to investigate wrongdoing by the private sector, despite increasing reliance on contractors by the U.S. military. Attempts to bring private contractors under the military justice system have stalled. When federal investigators with the FBI or the inspectors general for Iraq and Afghanistan have attempted to collect evidence for cases filed in civilian courts, they have struggled to meet the demands of the American justice system.
We’ve annotated the indictment  to note highlights of the case and what it shows about difficulty of achieving accountability under the largest, most expensive U.S. reconstruction effort since the Marshall Plan.
American Enterprise Institute (Defense Spending) As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington, DC, Tuesday, May 24, 2011
US Department of Defense May 24, 2011
Thank you Arthur, and thanks for that introduction. And my thanks to the American Enterprise Institute for hosting this event on relatively short notice. In many ways it is appropriate that AEI be the setting for my last major policy speech in Washington. The recent history of this institution and some of its more prominent figures is inextricably tied to the war in Iraq, the conflict that pulled me out of private life and back into the public arena nearly four and a half years ago.
As you know, and as Arthur just said, I am in the final weeks of the greatest privilege of my professional life, serving as America’s 22nd Secretary of Defense. Most of my time and attention in this post has been dominated by America’s two major post-9/11 conflicts – each marked by swift, exhilarating victories against odious regimes followed by grinding, protracted counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism campaigns.
In the course of doing everything I could to turn things around first in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, from the early months I ran up against institutional obstacles in the Pentagon – cultural, procedural, ideological – to getting done what needed to get done on behalf of those fighting the wars we are in. Whether it was outpatient care for the wounded, armored troop transport, medevac, ramping up intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, or any number of urgent battlefield needs.
It became evident over time that changing the momentum of these conflicts – and increasing the odds of military success in the future – would also require fundamentally re-shaping the priorities of the Pentagon and the uniformed services and reforming the way they did business: How weapons were chosen, developed and produced, how troops and their families were cared for, how leaders were promoted and held accountable – and, related to all of the above, where money was spent (or misspent as the case may be).
The federal government awarded $24 billion in Recovery Act funds to contractors and vendors who owe millions in unpaid taxes, a new Government Accountability Office report has found.
The nonpartisan watchdog agency reported Tuesday that at least 3,700 recipients owed more than $750 million combined in unpaid federal taxes as of Sept. 30, 2009. They represent 5 percent of all recipients of the so-called stimulus funds.
“For many years now, we’ve known that a small percentage of federal contractors and grantees who get paid with taxpayer dollars shirk their responsibility to pay their taxes,” said Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan. “Now the executive branch should get on with it and actually debar the worst of the tax cheats from the contractor workforce.”
Levin, who chairs the Senate Permanent Investigations Committee, plans to hold a hearing on the report this afternoon.
“That such a huge amount of the stimulus money went to known tax cheats should be a wakeup call for Congress,” said Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the committee’s ranking member.
The GAO said their report likely underestimates the total amount of unpaid taxes owed by stimulus recipients. Federal law does not require government agencies to check the tax compliance of prospective grantees.
The report singled out 15 cases of “abusive or potentially criminal activity” for further investigation by the IRS.
One nonprofit health care organization reportedly owes $4 million in payroll taxes and has repeatedly submitted “dishonored checks” to the IRS to pay the bill. An unnamed security company, which received over $100,000 in Recovery Act funds and still owes more than $9 million in taxes, reportedly paid debts to other creditors but not the IRS and has repeatedly violated federal labor laws.
UPI Security Industry May 24, 2011
NEW YORK, May 24 (UPI) — C-12 aircraft operated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force will receive full life-cycle and maintenance support from a division of L-3 Communications.
The initial contracts to the company’s Systems Field Support division for worldwide service are worth $32.9 million. The total value of the five-year deal, however, could have an estimated value of $300 million, L-3 said.
Mike Causey’s Federal Report May 19, 2011
Contractors who are making big bucks helping Uncle Sam with national defense/homeland security could reap a major talent-and-dollars windfall if Congress slashes 150,000 federal jobs and lowers benefits for future retirees.
Many of them are watching in delight as politicians, in the name of economy, move to make government a not-so-great place to work. One proposal would trim take-home pay 5 to 6 percent.
Not that there is any connection, but contractors, using money paid them by the government, contribute a lot more money to politicians than federal and postal workers can or do.
Since 9/11, thousands of long-time federal workers from Defense, Homeland Security, Customs, ICE, the Secret Service and the FBI have left or retired to take related jobs in the private sector. They have several things that make them invaluable to companies that want to do high-security business with the government: A stable retirement benefit from the government, experience and contacts inside government, and must-have invaluable security clearances that are hard to come by.
Five contractors this week secured another chunk of a $10 billion global law-enforcement project of the U.S. State Dept., which is deploying hired guns and consultants worldwide.
Although the department yesterday (May 11) identified the companies to whom it awarded new contracts, it did not specify the destination or mission assigned to the respective vendors. Rather, it will pay the vendors on an Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity, or IDIQ, basis.
DynCorp International, Justice Services International, MPRI, PAE Government Services, and Civilian Police International will provide a variety of “civilian police” (CIVPOL), corrections, and advisement services to clients of the State Dept.’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). The contractors on their websites are vigorously recruiting applicants in preparation of carrying out “task orders” that the State Dept. may submit.
According to a modified solicitation for the program, one of INL’s responsibilities is:
the provision of a wide array of support to criminal justice sector development programs worldwide. Program countries/areas include Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Sudan, and the West Bank… The contracts provide criminal justice advisors and life and mission support (LMS). LMS includes office and living facilities, subsistence, vehicles, and associated equipment and supplies.
Contractors must be able to deploy staff to targeted nations with as little as 72 hours notice from the State Dept., the Statement of Work (SOW) says.