Tag Archive: Pentagon


PENTAGON IN THE TANKER

By Quin Hillyer on 10.8.09 @ 6:08AM

The Pentagon is playing dirty pool on behalf of the already-dirtiest pool players from Boeing, with regard to the huge (179-plane, about $40 billion) air refueling tanker contract that Northrop Grumman Corp. and EADS won fair and square last year before it was stolen away from them.

As a reminder: The swiping occurred after Boeing launched an unprecedented and underhanded political-hardball campaign after Northrop won the contract with a bigger, more versatile, more efficient plane. Boeing’s bid also was some $3 billion more expensive (or $42 million more expensive per plane) than Northrop’s for just the first 64 planes. And Northrop’s offering would support, it believably claims, some 48,000 American jobs at 230 supplier companies in 49 states, compared to 44,000 new jobs that Boeing claimed it would create. The Northrop plane also could start coming off the production lines sooner than Boeing’s, by all accounts.

(Reminder continued:) Yet after Boeing strong-armed politicians and the Pentagon, the Seattle- and Chicago-based company filed a formal protest, alleging more than 100 irregularities in what already had been the most open, public, analyzed contract award in Pentagon history. (The award actually itself was a re-do; at first the Air Force was to lease planes from Boeing, but Sen. John McCain led an investigation which found such serious shenanigans that several Boeing executives and Air Force personnel were convicted in a sort of kickback scheme. Those convictions led the Air Force to open the competition, which Northrop then won, only to have it snatched away.) Eventually the Government Accounting Office found that only eight of Boeing’s 100-plus complaints — among the least serious of the complaints, at that — were valid; but on that reed-thin basis, combined with the political pressure, Defense Secretary Robert Gates in September of 2008 announced he would re-bid the entire competition yet again, never mind what the delay would do to the readiness of a current tanker fleet containing some planes more than 50 years old. The strange decision was announced only after apparent leaks to Boeing-friendly congressmen but not to Northrop-friendly ones, on the same day that Gates and other Pentagon brass dined at the Boeing table for a major 9-11 memorial dinner.

(Still a reminder:) Gates also has repeatedly and stubbornly ruled out the idea of a split contract — first broached seriously in print right here in these pages more than two years ago — even though more and more observers and experienced, neutral congressmen have concluded that the competition between the two companies could lead to more planes, faster, and at a lesser long-term cost. Gates just so happens to have a house, where he plans to eventually retire, just outside of Seattle, where he also has family ties and where Boeing rules the roost. (How much do you want to bet that Gates ends up as a Boeing “consultant”?)

Which, finally, brings us almost up to date. Here’s what’s new (quoting the Associated Press): Boeing continues to deal with ethics problems. In August, it “agreed to pay $2 million to the Justice Department to settle a whistle-blower’s previously sealed claims that the company over-billed the government for work done at a plant in San Antonio.” The whistleblower “claimed Boeing manipulated records to show others besides him had been maintaining Air Force KC-135 tankers when they had not.”

New Criteria Favor Boeing

Yet, when the Pentagon finally got around, late last month, to producing its new Request For Proposal (RFP) outlining exactly what criteria it will use to make the new contract award, it had tweaked some of the requirements in ways beneficial to Boeing. Most disturbing of those tweaks were ones that actually de-emphasized the importance of a plane’s greater capabilities in the name of focusing only on price. Because it was those greater capabilities of the Northrop plane that made the biggest difference for Northrop last time, this change clearly helps Boeing — at the expense, perhaps, of the safety or capabilities of America’s airmen. (“This is no way to buy airplanes,” wrote the Mobile Press-Register‘s George Talbot, after interviewing numerous defense acquisition experts.)

More astonishingly, the Pentagon gave a huge competitive advantage to Boeing that has nothing to do with technical superiority or efficiency or anything else that involves actually determining which is the best plane for the job. What it did — get this — was to share Northrop’s pricing data, from its last bid, with Boeing. But it did not share Boeing’s pricing data with Northrop. Obviously, this gives Boeing a huge competitive advantage in crafting its bid — but the Pentagon refuses to make amends.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby of Alabama — where the Northrop plane would be assembled in Mobile — have vociferously protested, with Sessions even introducing an amendment to block all funding for the tanker program until the Pentagon releases all the pricing data from the last round of competition. “How can we expect the playing field to be level if one company was given sensitive information about the other’s bid?” asked Sessions, a conservative stalwart, as quoted by the Mobile Press-Register. “If that is the case, the best way to rectify the situation is to demand that information be shared in both directions.”

Sessions is absolutely right. The Pentagon’s stance is manifestly unfair.

Not only should the pricing data be shared, but so should the whole contract. That idea has been given heft by, among a number of others, Michael Wynne, former Secretary of the Air Force, who argued more than a year ago that a split contract could benefit the country far into the future.

Now… why should we care about this?

We should care a lot, because this new tanker is one of the most important, desperately needed pieces of equipment — by almost universal acclaim — for the entire armed forces. Air power is the essential element of force projection in a world made ever more dangerous by the spread of nuclear weapons technology to rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. And, as noted, the current fleet includes some planes more than half a century old, with more and more of them needing to be grounded for more and more repairs.

And, of course, the new technology — a plane hurtling through high altitudes with a “boom” (a long fuel tube) hanging from its belly and precisely maneuverable and insertable into the fuel tank of a jet fighter — is so much more spectacular than the old technology that it’s almost criminal not to give our courageous pilots the advantages of the new stuff.

 

 

Link:  http://spectator.org/archives/2009/10/08/pentagon-in-the-tanker

Pentagon halts feeding of information to

retired officers while issue is reviewed

By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, April 26, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Defense Department has temporarily stopped feeding information to retired military officers pending a review of the issue, said Robert Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs.

The New York Times first reported on Sunday that the Defense Department was giving information to retired officers serving as pundits for various media organizations in order to garner favorable media coverage.

Some of these retired officers saw their access to key decision-makers as possible business opportunities for the defense contractors they represent, according to the newspaper. The story also alleged that the officers who did not repeat the Bush administration’s official line were denied further access to information.

Hastings said he is concerned about allegations that the Defense Department’s relationship with the retired military analysts was improper.

“Following the allegations, the story that is printed in the New York Times, I directed my staff to halt, to suspend the activities that may be ongoing with retired military analysts to give me time to review the situation,” Hastings said in an interview with Stripes on Friday.

Hastings said he did not discuss the matter with Defense Secretary Robert Gates prior to making his decision. He could not say Friday how long this review might take.

“We’ll take the time to do it right,” he said.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said in a speech that he was angered by the allegations raised in the New York Times’ story.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with providing information to the public and the press,” Skelton said. “But there is a problem if the Pentagon is providing special access to retired officers and then basically using them as pawns to spout the administration’s talking points of the day.”

Skelton, who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was also disturbed by the ties between the military officers and defense firms.

“It hurts me to my core to think that there are those from the ranks of our retired officers who have decided to cash in and essentially prostitute themselves on the basis of their previous positions within the Department of Defense,” he said.

Hastings, who had not seen Skelton’s remarks before Friday’s interview, said he is unaware of the Defense Department’s past activities with retired military analysts. He took over his current post in March.

“I need a little time to kind of digest that and figure out what the path forward is,” he said.

FELONY CONDUCT. . . IS

FELONY CONDUCT

 

The sentencing of former Pentagon IG Chief

Investigator Richard T. Race

 

 

 

Op-Ed

 

By Douglas K. Kinan

 

April 24, 2008

 

In a well unpublicized case, “Richard T. Race, the Pentagon inspector general’s chief investigator of procurement fraud and official misconduct quit his job and pleaded guilty last month to violating U.S. banking laws.”  Mr. Race was also a key member of the Defense Council on Integrity and Efficiency.  The sentencing date for Mr. Race is May 2, 2008.

 

A March 18, 2008, Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) Information Release, states, “The Office of Inspector General was not involved in the reporting or investigation of the matters underlying the recent judicial action and has no information that would suggest any relationship between those matters and Mr. Race’s official duties with the OIG.” 

 

I disagree.  Felony conduct is not about the person – it’s about felony conduct – and its related.

 

At his arraignment Judge Leonie Brinkema told Mr. Race that he should have “known better.”  Mr. Race’s many years of experience in law enforcement and his actions demonstrate that his intent was clear. See the letter Mr. Kinan sent to Judge Brinkema.

 

As a former Department of Defense employee, after Mr. Race’s appointment I wrote to him requesting that the extensive and pervasive verified record of felony conduct and well planned discrimination by several officials at the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMAE), Boston, Massachusetts be investigated. 

 

Concerning two, of many employees, who were framed and fired for violations that Mr. Race knew they did not commit, the Hotline Director, Mr. Leonard Trahan, Jr., (and eventually Mr. Race’s subordinate) writes, “There were two EEO cases in the District in which Mr. Kinan disagreed with the decisions made by Ms. Appleton and Mr. Krasker, the DCMDE Chief Counsel.  Instead of accepting those decisions “as reasonable people can disagree”, they became a ‘cause celebre’ for Mr. Kinan.” 

 

That the Hotline Director who is responsible for DoD fraud, waste and abuse would essentially admit that it is okay to frame innocent individuals, stand by and watch them anguish for many months (Virella was 60 months) and allow them to be stripped of their career and full pension and then justify felony conduct as a “cause celebre” is contrary to what the DoD Hotline does. 

 

In a conflict of interest, Mr. Race’s second subordinate, Mr. James L. Pavlik, covered up for Mr. Trahan by conducting a fraudulent investigation, making false official statements and issuing a fraudulent report to Senator Charles Grassley

 

Despite the unequivocal fact that Mr. Pavlik had a “specific and credible” record that innocent employees were framed, Mr. Pavlik wrote, “The analysis that concludes Mr. Kinan’s disclosure did not contain “specific and credible” information or did not meet the “substantial likelihood” test that it would be substantiated and was therefore not in the category of cases referable to the Defense Criminal Investigative Service…”

 

Mr. Race could have prevented the DCMAE from framing others.  Instead, Mr. Race opted to shield his subordinates’ felony conduct.  As I wrote to the DoD Inspector General, Claude Kicklighter, “Framing two innocent individuals is not just a simple matter of “two EEO cases” – it’s framing two innocent people.” 

 

The DCMAE wasted more than one million taxpayer dollars to secretly settle these two threatened lawsuits that could expose their felony conduct, promotion fixing and program fraud in the millions of taxpayer dollars. 

 

Mr. Race’s deliberate indifference to the conduct outlined in my thirty-page affidavit caused many innocent individuals permanent and immeasurable damage.  Additionally, the ripple effect of fixed promotions essentially denies many DoD employees the opportunity to compete for merit-based promotions. 

 

As evidence of the DCMAE’s continuing violations, Mr. Race also had knowledge of the DCMAE’s recent framing and fraudulent investigation of whistleblower, Mr. Kenneth Pedeleose, as can be verified by the October 24, 2007, United States Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) “Opinion and Order” reversing Pedeleose’s 30 day retaliatory suspension. See MSPB Docket No. AT-0752-06-0350-I-1.

 

The MSPB’s opinion and order breathes legitimacy into and corroborates the factual record that the DCMAE attorneys continue to insist on framing innocent citizens and conducting fraudulent investigations to sustain false and fabricated charges, using the same modus operandi each time.

   

Mr. Race’s insensitivity has no limits and knows no bounds – his deeds supersede his words.  Anyone willing to frame an innocent person should not be taken seriously.  It’s about the lowest act you can do. 

 

At his sentencing hearing Mr. Race or his attorney will be asking the court for leniency and will offer the standard shibboleths routinely issued by defendants.  There will be no one there to offset Mr. Race’s malice, lack of mercy, empathy or “remorse.”  The court should not overlook Mr. Race’s willingness and propensity to permanently harm innocent individuals, their families and the government. 

 

Mr. Race ignored the fact that many innocent individuals were framed, stripped of their career and full pension for violations he knew they did not commit and he condoned his subordinates’ chronic and systemic malfeasance. 

 

Mr. Race was allowed to “take voluntary retirement” on February 16, 2008.  Should Mr. Race, who admitted guilt, be allowed to collect his full pension when he knew that his subordinates consciously decided that innocent employees should not collect theirs?

 

http://www.oscwatch.org/blog/2008/04/24/felony-conduct-is-felony-conduct/

 

 

Mr. Kinan is a former Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) Specialist with the Defense Contract Management Agency, and he may be contacted as follows:

 

DougKinan@yahoo.com