Tag Archive: whistleblower


Sep 29, 2010

Whistleblower Office Vindicates FAA Whistleblower, But Questions Remain On Hundreds Of Improperly Closed Cases

By Nick Schwellenbach, POGO

Excerpt:

“The federal Office of Special Counsel (OSC) yesterday announced that it substantiated the findings of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) whistleblower Robert Spahr.  Spahr, who is an aviation safety inspector, reported to the OSC that the FAA’s flight standards district office in Pittsburgh and the FAA Eastern Division Regional Office violated regulations by failing to take action against three entities regulated by the FAA.

CNN’s Allen Chenoff reports that “Erie Aviation, a repair station operator that services commercial airlines; C.J. Systems, which pilots helicopters for hospitals around the country; and Air Charter Service, an operator of private charter flights,” were the three entities FAA failed to take action against.  Enforcement actions should have been taken in response to mechanical deficiencies and false entries in aircraft logs, according to the OSC.

But questions still remain about OSC’s previous work with whistleblowers, including those at the FAA and Federal Air Marshal Service (the subject of a 2008 POGO report).  Under Scott Bloch, the former Special Counsel who pled guilty to lying to Congress, literally hundreds of whistleblowers’ cases were closed without investigation.”

Link to entire article:  http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2010/09/whistleblower-office-vindicates-faa-whistleblower-but-questions-remain-on-hundreds-of-improperly-clo.html

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Cemetery whistle-blower: ‘I ain’t a hero’:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32043382/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/?gt1=43001
 

‘I had my mouth closed too long,’ he says of shady goings-on at Ill. site

Last Inspector’s Blog – Fighting FAA & Boeing Fraud from the 737 to the 787

Alert From the Project On Government Oversight Supporting their Op-Ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer  

Monday, May 12, 2008, 12:14 AM
Posted by Administrator (www.thelastinspector.com)

 

 

If you thought the last blog was noteworthy, check out this alert on the Project On Government Oversight’s website, which gives facts and data backing up their op-ed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that showed that Boeing and the FAA knew my report on massive rollerstamping fraud by BCA inspectors was correct. Yet over the years they knew it was the status quo at BCA they did nothing about this fraud allowing defects of unknown number and severity to deliver to airline and government customers. In fact, the STA (Special Technical Audit) of BCA in 1999/2000 was actually used to further weaken an already ineffective quality system, rather than to make it more effective, as an reasonable person would deduce was what was needed.

This effort to weaken and make “less prescriptive” Boeing’s already sievelike quality system was called the “Quality Management System,” or QMS. Why would Boeing further weaken such a compromised quality assurance department as documented in the STA? Because, of course, as noted on my website, Boeing management was always aware rollerstamping was going on on a massive scale in QA because it was Boeing management who wanted that fraud to take place for cost and production flow reasons. And they knew they could count on their counterparts in the FAA to look the other way.

In January, 2002, I began my effort to end the rollerstamping in Boeing QA after my manager of the time proved to me it was Boeing management directed fraud, by going to the FAA. After several rounds of trying to get the FAA and Boeing Headquarters management to end that fraud placing passenger and crew lives at extra risk for a few more bottom line dollars for Boeing, Boeing dared me to go public, knowing they had FAA management to cover for their continuing fraud. The FAA had reliably done so since at least the 1999 STA.

That’s where the “Dual Failures” charade came in, which began, not coincidentally, just after I last spoke with Boeing about the subject, in October, 2003. This was a cover for Both FAA and Boeing management should I go public, as they and I expected I would. However, due to aforesaid reasons, I was unable to do so in a timely manner. They thought that I had decided to not go public after all, so they dropped this “Dual Failures” cover up project. More proof of Boeing/FAA management complicity in ensuring the rollerstamping quality system at BCA can continue. What more proof does DOT OIG Inspector General Scovel need to investigate the crooks in the FAA “overseeing” Boeing Type and Production Certificates? You have to wonder at what point they will step up and do their jobs in this critical area. Corrupt FAA mmanagement are not going to out themselves. Real oversight of BCA is needed now that will not only restore Boeing’s quality system to minimum standards, but also restore Boeing’s and/or the FAA’s oversight of Boeing supplier’s compliance with minimum quality system standards, which the OIG has documented serious noncompliances with. The root causes of both are the same–corrupt BCA and FAA management.

http://www.pogo.org/p/transportation/ta-080508-faa.html

Alert

May 8, 2008

Internal Boeing Documents Support Whistleblower’s Allegations: Aircraft Quality Control Problems Cited

For Immediate Release
Contact Nick Schwellenbach (202) 347-1122

Internal Boeing documents obtained by the Project On Government Oversight show that the allegations of a former Boeing quality control inspector facing criminal charges have merit. Quality control problems at Boeing increase the likelihood that defective aircraft parts end up on planes and flaws in the manufacturing of planes remain uncorrected. This can potentially threaten public safety and drive up the cost of aircraft maintenance. These documents are linked at the bottom of this release.

Gerald Eastman, the former Boeing inspector, is facing a second trial of criminal charges for disclosing Boeing information to the press. His first trial last month resulted in a mistrial when jurors could not agree on whether Eastman committed “computer trespass.” Mr. Eastman claims that his involvement with the press stemmed from the lack of corrective actions taken by Boeing and the government in response to his disclosures of wrongdoing to them.

An internal Boeing memo sent to Boeing employees in October 2000 stated that misuse of “production stamps” or “roller-stamping” can result in negative consequences for the company and the individual misusing their stamp. Roller-stamping is the misuse of production stamps to stamp work on critical parts and assemblies as complete and fully inspected when there has only been a cursory inspection, if one at all, of the part or assembly in question. Eastman’s central claim is that he had perceived widespread “roller-stamping” and Boeing did little to curtail the practice.

“These documents show that Eastman clearly had a reasonable basis for his belief roller-stamping was occurring,” according to Nick Schwellenbach, POGO investigator. “It’s one thing to break company policy on releasing documents and getting fired, it’s another matter to file criminal charges. Who do the prosecutors work for?”

The Boeing memo came months after the Federal Aviation Agency conducted a special technical audit of Boeing that concluded that there were systemic quality control problems. The 2000 FAA special technical audit found “in some cases, manufacturing planning was not adequate, requirements were not followed, inspections were not specific, or personnel were not knowledgeable about requirements.” Thus, “parts, assemblies, and installations are released through the system that do not conform” to approved designs. Also, in 2000, the FAA proposed “a record $1.24 million in civil penalties against Boeing for inadequate supplier oversight and for failing to quickly report cracked parts on two older jetliners,” according to a news report (James Wallace, “FAA Audit Rips Boeing Over 100 Production, Design Problems Detailed; Company Plans Corrective Action,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 11, 2000.).

Years later, roller-stamping was still occurring when Eastman acted on his concerns.

Boeing certainly was aware of the practice because a Boeing document dated January 2004, states that, “There appears to be a systemic issue within BCA [Boeing Commercial Aircraft] involving parallel process breakdowns of mechanics and inspectors involved in assembling and inspecting aircraft, assemblies and parts.” The 2004 document also states that the FAA examined 55 issues at Boeing between 2002 and 2003 and found that “24% of these issues have involved instances where the mechanic and inspector created and accepted nonconforming conditions”—i.e. roller-stamping.

In further support of Eastman’s claims, other Boeing employees became whistleblowers when they reported that Boeing supplier Ducommun was regularly supplying non-conforming parts to Boeing, according to the whistleblowers’ False Claims Act lawsuit obtained by POGO. Now-former Boeing employees Taylor Smith, Jeannine Prewitt and James Ailes were then retaliated against by management because Boeing allegedly did not want to deal with the repercussions of their findings.

For additional information

Boeing Commercial Airplane Group memorandum, Use of personal stamps in our production system ,” October 31, 2000.

Federal Aviation Administration, Special Technical Audit of Boeing Commercial Airplane Group ,” December 1, 1999, through February 11, 2000.

Boeing Airplane Program Systemic Issues Chartered Team 1, Investigation of ‘Dual Failures ,'” January 2004.

United States of America ex rel Taylor Smith, Jeannine Prewitt and James Ailes vs. The Boeing Company and Ducommun, Inc. , Federal District Court of Kansas. Filed on March 11, 2005.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Beverley Lumpkin, 202-347-1122

 

Pentagon IG’s Handling of Tenebaum Raises Troubling Questions
Serious Conflicts of Interest Deserve Review

 

Washington , DC . – The Project on Government Oversight has obtained a cache of documents from inside the Pentagon’s Inspector General’s Office that raises a variety of questions, troubling and even bizarre: 

http://pogoarchives.org/m/go/ig/attachment-a.pdf http://pogoarchives.org/m/go/ig/attachment-b.pdf http://pogoarchives.org/m/go/ig/attachment-c.pdf

http://pogoarchives.org/m/go/ig/attachment-d.pdf

 

An ongoing major review of the Inspector General system undertaken by the Project On Government Oversight last fall strongly supports the absolute necessity for all IGs to have access to independent legal advice, free and clear of their agencies’ general counsels. (http://www.pogo.org/p/government/go-080228-ig.html) At present the only one of the 30 Presidentially-appointed IGs who lacks such unencumbered legal counsel is the DOD Inspector General.  Legislation to amend and improve the IG law (S.2324), as well as the Senate Armed Services authorization bill, both address this situation and would require the DOD IG to retain his own counsel answerable only to him.

 

The case of Army engineer Dr. David Tenenbaum vividly illustrates why it is intolerable for the DOD IG not to have his own counsel.  In a recent letter to key members of Congress, POGO brought the Tenenbaum case to their attention. (http://pogoarchives.org/m/go/ig/levin-letter-20080501.pdf)

 

In that letter, POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said:  “We believe there will always be a basic conflict of interest between the agency general counsel, whose job is to protect and defend the interests of the agency, and that of the inspector general, who must expose waste, fraud, abuse and other misconduct committed within that agency.”

 

Among the several questions which need to be raised:

 

·                                 Did anti-Semitism in an Army engineering office prevent the development of armor that could have protected the U.S. military in the field?

 

·                                 Has an internal Defense Department Inspector General investigation been hijacked and its conclusions altered because of internal conflicts of interest?

 

·                                 Does the general counsel to the Inspector General at DOD actually consider the IG his client, or is he instead beholden to the General Counsel of the Department, who has the best interests of the Secretary and the Department in mind?

 

Tenenbaum is a civilian mechanical engineer with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) in Warren , Michigan , where he created a program designed to upgrade the armor on the Army’s light armor vehicles, including Humvees.  In the early 1990s, some of his colleagues and supervisors suspected that he was a spy for Israel .  Tenenbaum was suspended[], his security clearance revoked, and the FBI launched an investigation of him.  But the U.S. Attorney’s Office closed the case without bringing any charges.  Tenenbaum returned to TACOM, but not to his previous position. In fact, the Army not only restored Tenenbaum’s security clearance but it upgraded his clearance from secret to top secret. He then filed a religious discrimination lawsuit but the case was dismissed on the basis of “state secrets privilege”; the Army attorney who recommended the assertion of that privilege was Uldric L. Fiore, Jr.

 

In 2006, at the request of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the Deputy IG for Investigations was asked to examine whether Tenenbaum had been treated unfairly and been discriminated against because of his religion.  After an investigation, the finding reached was:  “Mr. Tenenbaum experienced religious discrimination when his Judaism was weighed as a significant factor …” 

 

The questionable conflicts of interest arose when the investigators’ findings had to be okayed by the IG’s general counsel.  But lo and behold:  the IG’s general counsel was one Uldric L. Fiore, Jr., who did not initially disclose his former involvement in the case.  When it was discovered, he initially refused to recuse himself.  Once he was recused, the legal “scrub” was assigned to his staff members, one of whom is Charles Beardall who had preceded Uldric Fiore as the Chief of the Army’s Litigation Division.

 

The documents received by POGO show that those staff members have now apparently decided to ditch the investigators’ original finding of discrimination.  An internal email obtained by POGO says that at an upcoming “Tenenbaum meeting,” one of those staff members “will be spotlighted for a progress account of his re-tooling of the report based upon Army input and changing the discrimination finding.” [Emphasis added]

 

POGO has asked Members of Congress to intervene to ensure that the original findings will not be altered.  Further, POGO urges that the pending legislative provisions requiring the DOD OIG to have an independent general counsel will be passed and signed into law.

 

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Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight is an independent nonprofit which investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.