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Project on Government Oversight
Neil Gordon, Investigator

Neil Gordon

Investigator

ngordon@pogo.org |

Year Started At POGO: 2007

Areas of Expertise: Federal Contractor Misconduct, Contractor Accountability, Government Privatization

Neil Gordon joined POGO in 2007. His chief responsibility is managing POGO’s groundbreaking Federal Contractor Misconduct Database. He also works with the media, answers public queries, submits comments to the federal agencies on proposed regulations, and blogs on contracting issues and other public policy matters. Prior to joining POGO, Gordon was a researcher and writer at the Center for Public Integrity, working on the Center’s investigations of prosecutors, U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, state legislators and lobbyists, and international corruption. From 1995 to 2000, Gordon practiced law in Maryland. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Delaware and a law degree from the University of Baltimore. He has written for Nieman Watchdog, Washington Business Journal, and IRE Journal and has been quoted in Bloomberg Government, Federal Times, and FoxNews.com.

POGO highlights:

Environmental and Workplace Safety are Crucial Elements of Contractor Responsibility

January 17, 2013

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has presented its findings on the April 2011 explosion and fire at the Waikele storage bunker in Hawaii that killed five people handling illegal fireworks seized by federal authorities. The five men were performing this work for a Treasury Department subcontractor, Donaldson Enterprises, Inc.

POGO makes comment on Contractor Compliance Program and Integrity Reporting

January 14, 2008

POGO supports contractor compliance program and integrity reporting, but the proposed rule’s mandatory reporting requirement must be clarified and expanded to require contractors to disclose a broader array of unethical conduct.

Judge in Blackwater Prosecution Seeks Probe of State Dept.

April 11, 2014

A federal judge sharply criticized the State Department's decision to grant legal immunity to Blackwater guards involved in a 2007 shooting in Iraq. That decision nearly doomed the manslaughter case against the guards, which goes to trial in June.

Hearing Spotlights Afghanistan Corruption and Waste

April 4, 2014

The $100 billion U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghanistan was on the hot seat on Capitol Hill.

GAO: Noncompetitive Contracts Need Stronger Oversight

March 28, 2014

According to a new GAO report, the government needs to improve oversight of the billions spent each year for goods and services on an urgency basis.

Afghanistan Watchdog Sinks Teeth Into Scrapped Incinerators

March 19, 2014

The Afghanistan reconstruction watchdog has launched a formal inquiry into an ill-fated U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract to build waste incinerators at Forward Operating Base Sharana.

Entrusting Afghanistan Aid Oversight to Contractors

March 17, 2014

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is about to put contractors in charge of overseeing the billions of dollars invested in Afghanistan reconstruction. Is this a good idea?

Report Shows Continued Growth in Suspensions and Debarments

March 11, 2014

Federal agencies are increasingly relying on suspension and debarment to protect taxpayers from fraud, waste and abuse, according to a new report.

Federal Contracting Hearing Leaves Unanswered Questions

March 7, 2014

Thursday's Senate subcommittee hearing on the government's contractor performance and integrity databases left the public with many unanswered questions, but Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is totally on the case.

FAPIIS Finally Gets a Hill Hearing

March 5, 2014

Tomorrow, the public will finally get the lowdown on the government's FAPIIS database when the Senate convenes a hearing on contractor performance information.

Fed Business Still Good for USIS, Despite Legal Woes

February 26, 2014

Despite mounting legal troubles, background-check contractor USIS continues raking in millions of dollars in federal contracts.

The Pentagon’s PR War Against SIGAR

February 4, 2014

Military commanders in Afghanistan are waging their most aggressive campaign against the office charged with overseeing the $100 billion being spent on Afghanistan's reconstruction.

KBR Accused of Kickbacks, Gouging, Unsafe Practices in Iraq

January 28, 2014

The Justice Department filed another False Claims Act lawsuit against contractor KBR. This time, KBR is alleged to have engaged in a massive corruption scheme in Iraq that included shipping food in trucks that had previously contained human remains.

DOJ Sues Firm That Screened Edward Snowden and Navy Yard Shooter

January 24, 2014

The Justice Department alleges contractor U.S. Investigations Services submitted more than 600,000 falsified security clearance background investigations over four and a half years and defrauded taxpayers of millions of dollars.

2013: The Year in Federal Fraud Recoveries

January 13, 2014

The federal False Claims Act -- still a potent anti-fraud weapon after 150 years.

Court Upholds 3-Year Contracting Suspension

January 7, 2014

2013 ended on a sour note for Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility, which has been under indictment and barred from federal contracting since 2009.

HealthCare.gov Debacle Reveals Flaws in Contractor Screening

January 3, 2014

Amid the holiday season craziness, The Washington Post published an in-depth account of how a subsidiary of Canadian IT giant CGI Group won the contract to lead the design and testing of the HealthCare.gov website.

Three Strikes Against Waste Disposal in Afghanistan

December 20, 2013

For the third time this year, the Afghanistan reconstruction watchdog found wasteful, possibly life-threatening, waste incineration practices on U.S. bases in Afghanistan.

Ebenezer Scrooge Should Not Be a Federal Contractor

December 17, 2013

New reports by a watchdog group and Congress show why Scrooge-like companies should not be doing business with the federal government.

Has Political Spending Defanged Intel Watchdogs in Congress?

December 13, 2013

Congressional overseers of U.S. intelligence programs received $3.7 million in campaign contributions from the largest intelligence contractors, according to a nonprofit research organization.

Pentagon Says Nyet To Russian Arms Company

November 19, 2013

The Pentagon announced last week that it will no longer buy helicopters from Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-owned arms company with a troubling client list.

Company Linked to Terrorism Gets U.S. Contract Work

November 14, 2013

The Afghanistan reconstruction watchdog found that contractors supporting the insurgency continue to receive U.S. funds and access to U.S. facilities.

Former Blackwater Guards Re-indicted for 2007 Iraq Shooting

October 21, 2013

A federal grand jury re-indicted four former Blackwater guards involved in a shooting in Baghdad in September 2007.

Syria Debate Skewed by Undisclosed Defense Industry Ties

October 16, 2013

A new report shows how the national news media hid its commentators' defense industry ties during the debate over whether the U.S. should attack Syria.

Nearly Half of Fortune 500 Gets the (Small) Business

September 25, 2013

The American Small Business League (ASBL) found that 235 of the Fortune 500 companies received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal small business contracts in 2012 and 2013.

Audit Finds Serious Flaws in Navy Security Screening

September 20, 2013

A Pentagon Inspector General report released this week finds major flaws in a security system used to regulate contractor access to Navy facilities.

SIGIR Releases Its Final Report

September 12, 2013

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released its final report this week, detailing an impressive list of accomplishments over the past decade.

Watchdog Finds Flaws in DOE Contractor Responsibility Checks

September 10, 2013

A report by the Department of Energy Inspector General found the Department needs to improve its policies and procedures for ensuring that contracts are awarded only to responsible vendors.

DynCorp Faces Another Subcontractor Nonpayment Lawsuit

August 22, 2013

For the second time in two months, a subcontractor has sued DynCorp International seeking money it claims DynCorp owes for Afghanistan reconsruction work.

New Report Slams Contract Oversight in Afghanistan

August 1, 2013

The latest quarterly report from the Afghanistan reconstruction watchdog found serious shortcomings in contract oversight, including “a pervasive lack of accountability.”

Halliburton Pleads Guilty to Destroying Evidence

July 26, 2013

Halliburton pleaded guilty to destroying evidence pertaining to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, which killed 11 men and triggered a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. POGO has obtained the criminal information outlining the government’s allegations and the plea agreement.

U.S. Reconstruction Project in Afghanistan Gets an F

July 17, 2013

A new watchdog report found that a teacher training facility in Afghanistan is in precarious shape, thanks to two contractors who were allowed to walk away from the job by the Army Corps of Engineers.

A White Elephant and Toxic Air at Camp Leatherneck

July 12, 2013

The Afghanistan reconstruction watchdog found two egregious examples of waste at Camp Leatherneck.

POGO Obtains Second Helping of “Compelling Reason” Memos

July 9, 2013

POGO has obtained the compelling reason determinations issued by the Defense Logistics Agency in 2009 and 2010 to waive the suspension of indicted logistics company Agility and extend its contracts to support the military in the Middle East.

New Details Emerge in Boeing Spare Parts Overbilling

June 21, 2013

A recent Pentagon Inspector General report found that Boeing overcharged the military for spare parts—again.

Defense Contractor Hit with Ginormous Fraud Judgment

June 19, 2013

An Ohio federal court ordered defense contractor United Technologies Corporation to pay the government hundreds of millions of dollars in damages in an Air Force contract fraud lawsuit filed in 1999.

DynCorp Accused of Being a Deadbeat

June 18, 2013

A Turkish construction company has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against DynCorp International, seeking nearly $6 million in overdue payments and damages for construction work in Afghanistan, including a project for which the government failed to hold DynCorp accountable.

Booz in the News and Whistleblower Blues

June 13, 2013

The revelation that it was Edward Snowden, an employee of National Security Agency contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, who blew the whistle on the NSA’s surveillance programs has thrust Booz Allen Hamilton into the spotlight. Unfortunately, their track record of business ethics and integrity has largely escaped scrutiny.

New Movie Documents Out of Control U.S. War Machine

May 31, 2013

"Dirty Wars," a forthcoming documentary based on the work of investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, provides a glimpse into the shadowy world of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), an elite U.S. combat unit waging a covert war around the world.

Pentagon Still Needs Better Service Contract Inventories

May 30, 2013

The Government Accountability Office has released its third and final review of Department of Defense service contract inventories.

Company Hit By Chinese Hackers Still a Trusted Fed Supplier

May 10, 2013

U.S. defense contractor QinetiQ North America got picked clean by Chinese hackers, but the government still awards the company contracts.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again…and Again…and Again

May 7, 2013

For the fourth time since 2007, Congress will try to pass a measure that will prevent companies and individuals who owe taxes from being awarded federal contracts.

Afghanistan Incinerators Burn Money, Not Trash

April 26, 2013

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that the government wasted $5 million on an unused solid waste incineration system on Forward Operating Base Salerno. The base continues to dispose of its solid waste in dangerous open-air burn pits.

Defense Contracting Competition in Free-Fall

April 10, 2013

Although the Department of Defense has recently been making a concerted effort to increase competition in its acquisition of goods and services, a new GAO report finds that competition in defense contracting has been in steady decline over the last 5 years.

Fluor Pays $1.1M to Settle Hanford False Claims Case

April 4, 2013

Department of Energy contractor Fluor paid $1.1 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit accusing the company of violating the False Claims Act by improperly using federal funds for lobbying.

Army Corps Stands By Its Sweetheart Deal With DynCorp

April 3, 2013

The Army Corps of Engineers stands by its decision to allow DynCorp International to walk away from a botched construction job in Afghanistan.

DOE Watchdog Sniffs Out More Waste at National Labs

March 28, 2013

In a new report, the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General found that the agency had improperly awarded salary increases for several executive employees of the contractor overseeing cleanup at the Oak Ridge nuclear facility.

POGO Celebrates Sunshine Week with Expanded Misconduct Database

March 14, 2013

POGO updates its Federal Contractor Misconduct Database with 12 new contractors and a new top 100 federal contractor ranking.

SIGIR Says “At Least” $8 Billion Lost in Iraq

March 8, 2013

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), which sunsets this month, said the government has no idea how billions of reconstruction dollars were spent over the past decade, and estimates that at least $8 billion has been lost to fraud, waste, and abuse.

Did Blackwater Graymail Lead to a Whitewash?

February 26, 2013

Last week's surprising conclusion of the firearms prosecution of the company formerly known as Blackwater has many wondering if federal contractors have become too powerful.

Issa Proposes Contractor Responsibility Reforms

February 15, 2013

Representative Issa's proposal to overhaul the suspension and debarment system generates mixed reactions.

Should SIGAR Have Suspension and Debarment Power?

February 1, 2013

While the government considers whether to grant SIGAR suspension and debarment powers, dozens of companies and individuals suspected of aiding terrorists in Afghanistan remain eligible to receive U.S. taxpayer money.

Are FEMA Debt Collectors Too Easy on the Big Easy?

January 28, 2013

New Inspector General report finds flaws in FEMA procedures to recover improper disaster relief payments.

Company Behind Fireworks Disaster Still a Fed Contractor

January 18, 2013

A company blamed this week for a fatal fireworks explosion is still eligible to receive federal contracts.

Army of One ... Contractor

January 11, 2013

Don't like competing for contracts? Head to the Department of Defense, which routinely awards contracts where it solicited or received only one bid.

Gallup Fraud Probe Nabs Ex-FEMA Official

January 4, 2013

Federal prosecutors charged former FEMA official Timothy Cannon with a felony conflict of interest charge for helping The Gallup Organization win contracts while seeking a job with the company.

POGO Obtains Army ‘Compelling Reason’ Memos

December 19, 2012

POGO obtained internal Pentagon memos explaining why the Army repeatedly waived the suspension of a contractor accused of defrauding the government.

SIGAR Probing Army Corps Deal with DynCorp

December 17, 2012

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has opened an investigation into why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowed DynCorp International to walk away from a bungled construction job.

Government Fraud Recoveries Would Make "Honest Abe" Proud

December 10, 2012

The federal government has recovered another $5 billion of taxpayer money that otherwise would have been lost to fraud.

BP Suspension: What’s Behind Door Number Two?

December 5, 2012

Despite having several other companies from which it can purchase fuel, whichever company the Pentagon chooses to replace BP with will likely pose as great a responsibility risk.

Government Makes Opinion Heard in Contract Fraud Case

December 4, 2012

The government last week filed a complaint in a whistleblower lawsuit accusing The Gallup Organization of overbilling the federal government by millions of dollars and violating federal ethics laws.

EPA Sends a Message With BP Suspension

November 28, 2012

The EPA’s suspension of BP sends a message to all federal contractors, large and small, that they will be held accountable for their misconduct.

KBR November Litigation Round-Up

November 26, 2012

Despite a seemingly endless parade of legal troubles for KBR involving its Iraq logistics support work, the company remains a favored federal contractor.

Fluor Whistleblower Draws “First Blood”

November 13, 2012

The Department of Justice joined a False Claims Act lawsuit accusing large contractor Fluor Corporation of illegal lobbying.

Government Sues Triple Canopy for Iraq Contract Fraud

November 5, 2012

The federal government joined a whistleblower lawsuit alleging private security contractor Triple Canopy used hundreds of foreign nationals without proper firearms training to guard a U.S. airbase in Iraq.

SIGAR Slams Army Corps for Letting DynCorp Walk Off the Job

October 26, 2012

A new SIGAR report criticizes the Army Corps of Engineers for failing to hold contractor DynCorp International accountable for deficiencies in its construction of an Afghan Army garrison.

Lawsuit Alleges "The Most Trusted Name in Polling" Violated the Public Trust

August 23, 2012

The Department of Justice has joined a whistleblower lawsuit accusing opinion polling services company The Gallup Organization of committing a multi-million dollar fraud on contracts with the U.S. Mint, the State Department, and other federal agencies.

New SIGAR Chief Promises Bold Measures to Fight Afghanistan Corruption

August 10, 2012

For nearly four years, POGO has been closely following the operations of Afghanistan’s reconstruction watchdog, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

Air Force Lifts Booz Allen Suspension, Contractor Admits to "Broader Systemic Ethical Deficiencies" and "Additional Improper Actions"

April 17, 2012

On Friday, Booz Allen Hamilton announced that its San Antonio office was removed from the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) and regained full eligibility to compete for new federal contracts. Booz Allen entered into a three-year administrative agreement with the U.S. Air Force. We strongly encourage you to read the agreement, which contains several astonishing admissions about the company’s ethics environment and business practices.

GAO Finds Pentagon Still Can't Keep Track of Its Contractors

April 10, 2012

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released the second of three annual reviews of Department of Defense (DoD) service contract inventories. As you know, POGO has repeatedly called for the government to improve the quality of these annual inventories, which are crucial for determining the true size and cost-effectiveness of the federal service contractor workforce and whether contractors are performing inherently governmental functions.

McCaskill, Webb Introduce Wartime Contracting Legislation that Could Save Taxpayers Billions

March 1, 2012

Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jim Webb (D-VA) have introduced the Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act of 2012 (S. 2139), a bill that will greatly enhance transparency, sustainability, and accountability in overseas contingency operation contracting by the Department of Defense (DoD), the State Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Booz Allen Suspension: A Successful Failure

February 10, 2012

POGO has learned more details about the Air Force's proposed debarment of Booz Allen Hamilton's San Antonio office. This new information raises a troubling prospect about the revolving door between government and private contractors. Namely, that stopping its abuses often isn’t as easy as it seems.

Two Former Watchdogs Ring in the New Year on the Other Side of the Revolving Door

January 5, 2012

Welcome to another episode of "As the Washington Revolving Door Turns." The two latest ex-government officials to land jobs with private companies formerly served as very high-profile watchdogs of those companies.

The Return of Aaron Barr: Victim of Embarrassing Hacking Now Cybersecurity Chief at Large Federal Contractor

October 19, 2011

If you have been following the Wikileaks saga, you might remember the inciden involving an IT executive named Aaron Barr and the activist hacker group known as Anonymous. It's a comically bizarre story, but it has larger implications that deserve to be taken very seriously.

New Features Added to Government's Contractor and Grantee Responsibility Database

September 27, 2011

Almost six months have passed since the public debut of the government's contractor and grantee responsibility database, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, or FAPIIS. POGO was initially less than thrilled with FAPIIS, but we were optimistic that it would improve over time.

DoD Suspension and Debarment: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

August 9, 2011

The Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) released the results of its audit of the suspension and debarment (S&D) process at the Services (Army, Navy, and Air Force) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

Spare Us Already: Investigators Find More Instances of Gross Overbilling on Defense Contracts

August 1, 2011

A new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) found that Dubai-based federal contractor Anham LLC overcharged the Department of Defense by at least $4.4 million for spare parts and equipment. The SIGIR audit found "egregious examples of overbilling" by Anham...

FCMD Contractors in the News

April 25, 2011

The Department of the Interior announced on Thursday that BP Exploration and Production, Inc., will provide $1 billion for early oil spill restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico as part of an agreement with the federal government and the five states bordering the Gulf. The money will be divided among the states, Interior, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to restore coastal marshes, beaches, and barrier islands and conserve ocean habitat.

FAPIIS First Impressions

April 18, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011 marked the public debut of the government’s contractor and grantee responsibility database, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, or FAPIIS. POGO gave it a test drive and has a few things to say about it.

Errors Continue to Plague USASpending.gov

July 28, 2010

It looks like the data gremlins have struck again at USASpending.gov, the federal spending information website managed by the General Services Administration (GSA).

Small Business Advocate Scores Another Victory for Transparency

May 25, 2010

Every once in a while, POGO likes to remind everyone that the American Small Business League (ASBL) is still out there fighting the good government fight, kicking butt and taking names—or, in this particular case, FOIA-ing names.

Kabul Embassy Guards Back in the Spotlight

March 23, 2010

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) continues to shine a light on the State Department’s controversial use of contractor security guards at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Last Friday, she sent this letter pressing the Department for additional information about its plans and goals for the scandal-plagued contract.

Audit of Blackwater Iraq Contract Finds Improper Charges, Weak Enforcement

June 16, 2009

The State Department failed to punish Blackwater (now known as Xe) for significant violations of its Iraq security contract. This and other shortcomings were detailed in a joint audit report released Monday by the State Department Inspector General and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).

POGO Testifies in Congress Today

February 26, 2009

Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is holding a hearing provocatively titled “How Convicts and Con Artists Receive New Federal Contracts.”

More Bad News on the Iraq Contracting Front

October 31, 2008

It's Halloween today, and taxpayers should be afraid--VERY afraid. On Monday, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released another report guaranteed to make you scream in terror.

Parsons Corporation in Iraq: Another Chapter in 'An Episodic Story of Waste'

July 28, 2008

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR), told the Associated Press on Monday that his agency's 120 audits on Iraqi reconstruction projects "tell an episodic story of waste."

Small Business Contractors Get a 'John Deere' Letter

July 21, 2008

Three weeks ago, the Department of Interior Office of Inspector General (DOI-IG) released a report entitled Interior Misstated Achievement of Small Business Goals by Including Fortune 500 Companies. The report found the DOI awarded $5.7 million in small business contracts in fiscal years 2006-2007 to companies that are anything but small, including Dell, Home Depot, John Deere and Xerox.

Steak and Cocktails? Lingerie? Charge It to the Taxpayer!

April 9, 2008

A report released this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found widespread abuses in the use of federal agencies' credit cards. Over the years, government employees have used their "SmartPay" cards to pay for gambling, breast implants for one inventive and compassionate federal employee's girlfriend, online dating services, iPods and lingerie.

February 28, 2014

The Era of Security Clearance Self-Review Could Be Permanently Over

Government Executive at govexec.com | By Charles S. Clark

February 20, 2014

'Windfalls of war': Companies with spotty records making billions off Afghanistan

Fox News | By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

February 18, 2014

FBI Secretive About Spy Gear Technology

McClatchy News Service via Government Technology govtech.com | By Carl Prine

November 13, 2013

2WTK: Company Behind Food Stamp Program Has History Of Complaints

WFMY - NBC News | By Benjamin Briscoe

May 2, 2013

Senate considering bill to ban tax scofflaw contractors

USA Today | By Tom Vanden Brook