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Project on Government Oversight

POGO 2011 Impact and Accomplishments

Fighting Revolving Door

Sparked a Pentagon Inspector General investigation into the head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency whose former company—still headed by her dad and uncle—is winning contracts from the agency.

Revealed, through its investigative report and database, the extent to which hundreds of Securities and Exchange Commission employees went through the revolving door to represent Wall Street clients in front of their former employer.

 

Exposing Waste, Fraud, and Mismanagement

Turned conventional wisdom on its head with its groundbreaking report, Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors, by revealing that government contractors cost, on average, nearly double what federal employees cost when performing the same work.

Released recommendations, along with its ally Taxpayers for Common Sense, for reducing the deficit by nearly $600 billion over the next decade through cutting wasteful defense spending.

Made internal DoD documents public, revealing numerous problems facing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In part because of these disclosures, POGO helped increase oversight and accountability of the DoD’s largest weapons procurement ever.

Made public for the first time an un-redacted DoD IG report that shows Boeing ripped off taxpayers by overcharging by several thousand percent on several helicopter spare parts. The most egregious instance was a charge of $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents—an increase of over 177,000 percent.

Worked with a bipartisan coalition in the House and Senate to get a law passed that expands the cap on government reimbursement of DoD contractor compensation, which will save billions of dollars over the years. Previously, the cap was limited to the top five contractor executives, but now covers the amount of taxpayer reimbursement of compensation for all DoD contractor employees.

 

Stopping Excessive Secrecy

Organized an open letter urging Senators to oppose a measure that threatened the free speech rights of intelligence community employees by imposing harsh penalties on those merely suspected of leaking classified information. The language was scrapped after POGO’s work and after Senator Ron Wyden objected.

Led the successful pushback effort against a new defense-budget-bill secrecy provision. POGO worked closely with Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Carolyn Maloney, who amended the bill to narrow that provision and require that information withheld by the Pentagon under a certain Freedom of Information Act exemption pass a “public interest balancing test.”

Developed recommendations for the National Action Plan for open government as part of its work with OpenTheGovernment.org, a coalition of good government groups chaired by POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian. The White House incorporated many of POGO’s recommendations such as committing to enhancing whistleblower protections; improving FOIA administration; declassifying information that should be public; modernizing federal records to preserve agency emails; and increasing transparency in federal spending and taxpayer royalty collection for natural resources harvested from public lands.

 

Protecting Whistleblowers

Worked to ensure that financial regulatory agencies have the authority to provide awards and protections to industry whistleblowers who make disclosures directly to the government. Industry groups had aggressively lobbied for a requirement that would have forced whistleblowers to go through internal compliance programs in order to qualify for an award, which would have presented companies with the opportunity to retaliate against the whistleblowers and conceal any alleged misconduct.

POGO and the Government Accountability Project successfully issued a call to action to their memberships to pressure the two leading federal agencies responsible for government whistleblower protections to protect Franz Gayl—whose disclosures may have saved tens of thousands of U.S. troops from death and injury from IEDs by accelerating the purchase of MRAPS—and to get him his job back.

Testimony

Testimony of Nick Schwellenbach before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, on “Improving Federal Contract Auditing”

Testimony of Scott Amey before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, on “Deficient Contractor Accountability Leaves Agencies and Taxpayers at Risk”

Testimony of Angela Canterbury before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on “The Freedom of Information Act: Crowd-Sourcing Government Oversight”

Testimony of Scott Amey before the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, on “Homeland Security Contracting: Does the Department Effectively Leverage Emerging Technologies?”

Testimony of Benjamin Freeman, Ph.D., before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Personnel, on “General and Flag Officer Requirements”

Testimony of Scott Amey before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, on “Intelligence Community Contractors: Are We Striking the Right Balance?”

Testimony of Nick Schwellenbach before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform, on “Are government contractors exploiting workers overseas? Examining enforcement of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act”

Testimony of Angela Canterbury before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, on “Whistleblower Protections for Government Contractors”