POGO 2013 Impact and Selected AccomplishmentsTweet
POGO Wins Battle: Taxpayer Burden to Pay Contractor Salaries and Benefits Reduced.
In 2013, we finally achieved our goal of reducing the cap on excessive contractor compensation packages, which are funded with taxpayer dollars. For years, POGO had urged Congress and the White House to reduce the cap, and they finally listened. The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014 and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 included cuts to the cap, and the more cost-efficient cap in the Budget Act became law. The contractor compensation cap is now set at $487,000. Government estimates have found that the reduced cap will save approximately $200 million taxpayer dollars per year. The new cap is about half of the previous cap announced by the Office of Management and Budget (outrageously set at $952,308).
Military Sexual Assault Victims and Whistleblowers Are Now Better Protected.
Thanks to efforts led by POGO, a newly passed law will protect military whistleblowers and victims of sexual assault against retaliation. This law will help protect service members who make the difficult and brave decision to come forward and report sexual assault or other misconduct. POGO fought hard for passage of these reforms to upgrade the disgracefully broken whistleblower protections for our troops. That said, all the protections in the world won’t help if the people in charge aren’t likely to enforce them. And exactly this sort of person was put in charge of sexual assault prevention until POGO stepped in. A November 2013 POGO letter to Secretary Hagel asked for the removal of Major General Patton from his post as head of sexual assault prevention due to an investigation that found him guilty of violating the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. The letter resulted in news coverage of the issue and over 2,500 letters to the DoD from POGO supporters. A mere four weeks after POGO’s letter, the Pentagon announced Major General Patton’s plan to retire. A congressional staffer close to the issue told POGO that the impetus for Patton’s retirement was the unwelcome attention from POGO.
Several Key Watchdog Vacancies Filled.
In 2013 a number of important Inspector General vacancies were filled—including at the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and Department of State—after POGO highlighted the issue with its website tracking all IG vacancies, and advocated filling them through blog posts and meetings with policymakers. Our work also resulted in increased oversight by Members of Congress. Although we are pleased about the vacancies that have been filled, there are still agencies, such as the Department of the Interior, in need of a strong permanent Inspector General. POGO will continue working to ensure those vacancies are filled.
POGO Recommendations on Contracting Reform Featured in New York Times Editorial.
In a harsh critique of federal contracting rules, The New York Times editorial board cited POGO’s recommendations as a solution to the current practice of contracting out vast swaths of government work indefinitely. This indefinite contracting out, which is done with little to no attempt to develop the needed technical and managerial expertise within the government or to enforce labor standards, has created a bloated federal-contractor sector in which the public good is often subservient to profit.
Revolving Door Exemption at the SEC Revoked.
A report by POGO spotlighted an ethics exemption that had allowed certain employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission to lobby the agency immediately after leaving instead of staying on the sidelines for a year or more, as employees at other federal agencies must do. After POGO’s report was published, the SEC asked the Office of Government Ethics to revoke the exemption. The OGE agreed to the request. The change in ethics rules—revoking a longstanding exemption for some SEC officials—was a rare stand against the revolving door at an agency that has long blurred the lines between regulator and regulated.
Canterbury's Senate Testimony on National Security Positions, November 19, 2013