Scott H. Amey, J.D.Tweet
Year Started At POGO: 1993 & then 2003
Areas of expertise: Contract Oversight, Contractor Responsibility, the Revolving Door and Conflicts of Interest, Government Transparency
Scott Amey is POGO’s general counsel and directs contract oversight investigations, including reviews of federal spending on goods and services, the responsibility of top federal contractors, and conflicts-of-interest and ethics concerns that have led to questionable contract awards. Scott testifies before Congress and federal agency panels, submits public comments on proposed regulations, educates the public by working with the media, and publishes reports, alerts, and blogs on contracting and openness issues. Scott rejoined the staff in 2003, and previously worked at POGO in the mid-1990s as a one of the organization’s most prolific investigators. Scott left POGO in 1998 to attend law school, after which he clerked for the Honorable James A. Kenney, III, at the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland from 2001-2003. Amey received a J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2001, and a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993. Scott is licensed to practice law in Maryland. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CNBC, ABC, and NPR, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, and USA Today, among others, and often provides background information and leads to the media.
- In 2011, testified before Congress and the Commission on Wartime Contracting regarding why questionable contractors continue to receive taxpayer dollars and how to strike the right workforce balance in intelligence programs.
- Co-authored report debunking the myth that service contracts result in cost saving as compared to federal employees.
- Helped expose illegal activities at Area 51, which resulted in the black facility complying with environmental laws.
- Authored reports on Boston’s Big Dig project, safety concerns at nuclear power plants, EPA acquiescence to chemical companies, and inaccuracies in federal election records.
POGO wants federal contracting policy office to strengthen proposed rule to truly uphold a zero-tolerance policy against human trafficking in the contractor labor supply chain.
The Project On Government Oversight endorses the “Stop Unworthy Spending Act” of 2013 or the SUSPEND Act. The bill would create the Board of Suspension and Debarment, providing a centralized body to manage the suspension and debarment system.
On September 26, 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued Human Capital: Opportunities Exist to Further Improve DoD’s Methodology for Estimating the Costs of Its Workforces (GAO-13-792).
On August 13, 2013, your office issued a memorandum announcing an audit of Department of Defense compliance with the Berry Amendment (Project No. D2013-D000CG-0208.000). The Project On Government Oversight supports such an audit, and would like to see it expanded to also include a review of DoD’s compliance with the Buy American Act.
POGO's Scott Amey talks about the growing private intelligence industry that includes major federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, the former employer of Edward Snowden. Podcast with Joe Newman, Aimee Thomson, Jana Persky and Andre Francisco.
POGO's General Counsel Scott Amey went on C-SPAN to discuss Edward Snowden and the rapid increase in private intelligence contractors.
Since the 1990s, there have been several major shifts in federal procurement, including increased contract spending, a stretched acquisition workforce, spending on services outpacing spending on goods, and a host of acquisition reforms implemented to make spending easier. The result is that the government is sometimes doing business with risky contractors—contractors with criminal, civil, and administrative misconduct records or poor performance histories.
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced a public meeting on March 5, 2013, and requested public comments on “the practice of comparing the relative cost of performance by Federal employees versus contract performance in order to identify the most cost-effective source.” POGO hopes that all of the oral and written comments will be used to create a comprehensive cost comparison model that will be used when making human capital planning decisions.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following “Public Comment on Protections Against Trafficking in Persons.” 78 Fed. Reg. 9918 (February 12, 2013).
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Board (b)(6) commercial item exemption proposed rule. (77 Fed. Reg. 69422, November 19, 2012). As an independent nonprofit organization committed to achieving a more accountable and transparent federal government, POGO has a longstanding interest in federal contracting issues.
Federal agencies are misleading Congress about the true cost if hiring service contractors. Responses from OMB, DHS, and the Army show that the government is negligent in ensuring that it is hiring the most cost-efficient workforce.
The suspension of BP from future government contracts is surprising but welcome.
The executive order that President Obama signed today will expand the scope of current anti-trafficking policies and regulations.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) urges you to support the Department of Defense’s (DoD) legislative proposal for the National Defense Authorization Act that will result in improved oversight of billions of dollars’ worth of so-called “commercial” goods and services.
I want to thank Chairman McCaskill, Ranking Member Portman, and the Subcommittee for asking the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) to submit written testimony about the important, but often ignored, issue of service contracting costs. Although there are many initiatives in place to cut federal agency spending and reduce the costs associated with the federal workforce, the cost of contractor services has escaped scrutiny. Such avoidance is extremely disturbing because the government annually spends more taxpayer dollars on contractor services than it spends on goods, over $320 billion and $210 billion in FY 2011, respectively. To put that level of spending in perspective, total contract spending was $205 billion in FY 2000, of which services accounted for $128 billion of the total.
Cost Accounting Standards: Clarification of the Application of the Exemption from CAS at 48 CFR 9903.201-1(b)(15) for Firm Fixed Price (FFP) contracts and subcontracts Awarded on the Basis of Adequate Price Competition without Submission of Cost or Pricing Data
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to RIN 1105–AB27, “Revision of Department of Justice Freedom of Information Act Regulations” (76 Fed. Reg. 57940, September 19, 2011). The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) notice of proposed rulemaking would amend DOJ’s regulations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including permitting DOJ to present a false and misleading FOIA response regarding certain law enforcement records. As an independent nonprofit organization committed to achieving a more accountable and transparent federal government, POGO opposes that proposed language.
POGO recommends that intelligence community agencies, Congress, and the Committees with jurisdiction conduct assessments of intelligence community service contracts in order to gain a better understanding of the types of services procured, the total dollars awarded, the contract vehicles utilized, and contractor performance history.
Service contract award dollars have dramatically increased in recent years based on the assumption that shifting work to the private sector saves taxpayer dollars. POGO’s report compares total annual compensation for federal and private sector employees with federal contractor billing rates in order to determine whether the current costs of federal service contracting serves the public interest. Previous analyses have only focused on employee salaries and compensation and not federal contractor billing rates. POGO’s study shows that the federal government approves service contract billing rates that, on average, pay contractors 1.83 times more than the government pays federal employees in total compensation, and more than 2 times the full compensation paid in the private sector for comparable services. Given that one-quarter of all discretionary spending now goes to service contractors, a reassessment of the total federal work force, with a focus on contractor billing rates, could save taxpayers billions of dollars annually.
Many acquisition reforms were imposed prior to the large increase in federal contract spending (which exceeded $537 billion in fiscal year 2010), consolidation in the contractor community, the large-scale hiring of contractors to perform government services, and increased demands on the acquisition workforce to do more with less, which has led to waste, fraud, and abuse.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to FAR Case 2010-010, “Federal Acquisition Regulation; Service Contracts Reporting Requirements” (76 Fed. Reg. 22070, April 20, 2011). The proposed rule, issued by the Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), seeks comments on amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement section 743 of Division C of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (hereinafter Act). The proposed rule requires service contractors for executive agencies covered by the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998, except the DoD, to submit information annually in support of agency-level inventories for service contracts.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to IC 9000–00XX, “Preventing Personal Conflicts of Interest for Contractor Employees Performing Acquisition Functions.” 76 Fed. Reg. 27648, May 12, 2011.
POGO's testimony about the issue of contractor accountability, and about how past performance information and the suspension and debarment process can be used to improve contingency operations in reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Based on your most recent letters to POGO, we modified the NIH letter and blog to reflect that the timeline notes that GSK “would receive” all three drafts of the handbook and page proofs for final approval.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Board’s proposed rule entitled “Cost Accounting Standards: Elimination of the Exemption from Cost Accounting Standards for Contracts Executed and Performed Entirely Outside the United States, Its Territories, and Possessions” (75 FR 64684, October 20, 2010).
In response to your third letter, and after additional reviews of the numerous documents in our possession, the Project On Government Oversight (“POGO”) will not be altering its November 29, 2010, revised letter to National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) or blog entry, or issuing an apology.
In response to your letters dated December 9, 2010, POGO has consistently applied the earlier modification to the NIH letter and the December 01, 2010, Ghostbusters at POGO blog posted on POGO’s website.
In response to your letters and after a comprehensive internal review, the Project On Government Oversight (“POGO”) will make minor changes to the online version of its November 29, 2010, letter to National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), which expressed concerns about the integrity of federally funded research.
POGO's Scott Amey testifies about the Treasury Department's use of Emergency Contracting Authority and its potential problems including, risky contract vehicles, inadequate competition, and a lack of transparency and accountability.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the SF-LLL, Disclosure of Lobbying Activities, as announced in the June 22, 2010 Federal Register. As organizations and individuals dedicated to government accountability and civic participation, we believe that the current form needs substantial change to strengthen disclosure of lobbying contacts within the executive branch. Acting under authority granted by the Byrd Amendment (as amended by the Lobbying Disclosure Act), combined with general government operations authority, and consistent with the intent of the executive order on Ethics Commitments By Executive Branch Personnel (E.O. 13490), we believe that SF-LLL should be amended to capture all contacts that involve attempts to seek contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, loans, insurance awards, tax expenditures, or any other financial arrangements.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to DFARS Case 2009-D015, "Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Major Defense Acquisition Programs" (75 Fed. Reg. 20954, April 22, 2010). The proposed rule issued by the Department of Defense (DoD) seeks comments on additional requirements for organizational conflicts of interest (OCI). As an independent nonprofit organization committed to achieving a more accountable federal government, POGO supports the implementation of new standards and procedures to better detect and avoid actual or potential organizational conflicts of interest and thereby increase public confidence in defense contracting.
POGO strongly supports the intent of the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking under FAR case 2009-004, Enhancing Contract Transparency (75 Fed. Reg. 26916, May 13, 2010). This case will amend the FAR to enable the online posting of contracts and task and delivery orders. The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (Councils) are "seeking information that will assist in determining how best to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to enable public posting of contract actions, should such posting become a requirement in the future, without compromising contractors' proprietary and confidential commercial or financial information."
POGO's General Counsel Scott Amey went on C-SPAN to discuss Edward Snowden and the rapid increase in private intelligence contractors.
...In this vein, POGO strongly supports the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking under FAR case 2009-006, Labor Relations Costs, published at 75 Fed. Reg. 19345 (April 14, 2010). This long-overdue proposed rule amends FAR Subpart 31.205-21 to make unallowable contractor costs incurred to persuade employees with respect to unionization....
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s (OFPP) “Proposed Policy Letter” clarifying work reserved for performance by federal government employees. 75 Fed. Reg. 16188 (March 31, 2010). POGO is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government. We have a keen interest in government contracting matters, especially matters related to policies regarding the performance of government functions by private contractors.
Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government. POGO has a keen interest in government contracting matters, especially matters related to the suspension and debarment system.
In 2009, the federal government awarded more than $523 billion in federal contracts—contracts for goods, including complex weapons systems, and services.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) uses USAspending.gov on a regular basis, and since 2008 we have used the top 100 contractor list for compiling our Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (http://www.contractormisconduct.org/), which includes criminal, civil, and administrative cases, as well as investigative findings on the top 100-plus federal contractors. Government contract data has come a long way since the days of accessing federal contracting information via the complicated Federal Procurement Data System. We are pleased that the contracting information is more timely and that USAspending.gov is user-friendly, and we hope that Version 2.0 will continue in that tradition.
I am making this request under the Freedom Of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552. Please provide records that are maintained by an agency or for an agency by a government contractor in any format, including an electronic format.
I have included this FOIA Fee Waiver Supplement to provide a detailed account of POGO’s planned use of the requested information and to fully respond to GSA’s fee waiver criteria governed by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii) and 41 C.F.R. § 105–60.305–13.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Federal Acquisition Regulation proposed rule entitled “Inflation Adjustment of Acquisition-Related Thresholds” (75 FR 5716, February 4, 2010). 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 effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government. POGO has a keen interest in government contracting matters and as a result, is concerned when more contracts become exempt from Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provisions that are designed to protect taxpayer dollars.
As such, one of POGO’s areas of focus is government contracting. Accordingly, we urge the DFARS Council to ensure that contractors are provided with appropriate incentives to correct deficiencies in their business systems in a timely manner including, but not limited to, withholds on interim payments.
... POGO has a keen interest in government contracting matters, especially matters related to acquisition and conflicts of interest. The proposed rule provides enhanced measures to identify and prevent personal conflicts of interest when contractor employees are performing acquisition functions closely associated with inherently governmental functions. ...
In our efforts to further this mission, we want to bring to your attention two troubling self-policing programs—the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Importer Self-Assessment (ISA) programs—administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Inherent in this sort of self-regulation is a reduction of federal oversight of imported goods coming into the country.
POGO is concerned with the government's acceptance of limited competition in contracting as well as its over-reliance on cost-reimbursement, time and material contracts, and commercial item contracts.
Problems in today's federal contracting stem from workforce reductions but additional problems such as inadequate competition, deficient accountability, lack of transparency, and risky contracting vehicles deserve attention.
Cost Accounting Standards: Exemption From Cost Accounting Standards for Contracts Executed and Performed Entirely Outside the United States, Its Territories, and Possessions – Notice of request for information
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to DFARS Case 2008-D007 – "Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement; Senior DoD Officials Seeking Employment With Defense Contractors." (74 Fed. Reg. 2408 (January 15, 2009)).
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to FAC 2005–30, FAR Case 2008–003—"Public Disclosure of Justification and Approval Documents for Noncompetitive Contracts." (74 Fed. Reg. 2731 (January 15, 2009)). POGO is an independent nonprofit organization that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.
As you might recall, on October 15, 2007, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) wrote to Transportation Secretary Peters to encourage the USDOT Inspector General to investigate the administration of the federal Transportation Technology Innovation and Demonstration (TTID) program.
POGO remains concerned with the award of taxpayer dollars to contractors with long rap sheets and urges this Committee to think big when creating a new and improved suspension and debarment database.
We would like to extend our congratulations on your assumption of office as President of the United States. We would also like to take this opportunity to reintroduce our organization to you and share our suggestions regarding two laws creating government databases designed to reduce fraud and waste in federal government spending.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) enthusiastically endorses Mr. George Mulley for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Edward McGaffigan Jr. Public Service Award.
For years, reports have exposed specific contracting missteps in individual cases of waste, fraud, and abuse. But the findings and recommendations from the individual cases are applicable to the larger systemic problems with the Department of Homeland Security's contracting laws and regulations.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) commends your legislative efforts through SB 1199 to provide University of California (UC) employees the same whistleblower protections as other state employees.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is pleased that your office is conducting an audit of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Transportation Technology Innovation and Demonstration (TTID) program at the request of Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Anthony Weiner.
Since 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit organization that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to FAR Case 2007-018, "Organizational Conflicts of Interest" (73 Fed. Reg. 34686, June 18, 2008).
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to FAR Case 2007-017–"Service Contractor Employee Personal Conflicts of Interest" (73 Fed. Reg. 34600, June 17, 2008).
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to FAR Case 2007-006—“Contractor Compliance Program and Integrity Reporting (2nd Proposed Rule).” (73 Fed. Reg. 28407 (May 16, 2008).)
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit organization that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to FAR Case 2006-022—“Contractor Performance Information” (73 Fed. Reg. 17945 (April 2, 2008)).
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to FAR Case 2007-008—Limiting Length of Noncompetitive Contracts in “Unusual and Compelling Urgency” Circumstances. (73 Fed. Reg. 5784 (January 31, 2008)).
POGO has been asked to present its views on the recommendations made by the Acquisition Advisory Panel, as well as on the proposals made in H.R. 3033 (the “Contractors and Federal Spending Accountability Act of 2007”), H.R. 4881 (the “Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2007”), and H.R. 3928 (the “Government Contractor Accountability Act of 2007”).
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.
Competition in contracting is essential to getting fair and reasonable costs and prices for goods and services. The Department of Transportation's "Transportation Technology Innovation and Demonstration" (TTID) program, to provide real-time traffic information to travelers, highlights a contract that deserves more federal oversight.
POGO's response to the Subcommittee's July 30, 2007 letter presenting questions to complete the record on Testimony on Federal Contracting: Why Do Risky Contractors Keep Getting Rewarded With Taxpayer Dollars?
This is the Project On Government Oversight's (POGO) response to the Subcommittee's July 30, 2007 letter presenting questions to complete the record for the hearing entitled "Federal Contracting: Do Poor Performers Keep Winning?"
Testimony of Scott Amey, General Counsel, Project On Government Oversight (POGO), before the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on "Federal Contracting: Why Do Risky Contractors Keep Getting Rewarded With Taxpayer Dollars?"
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to DFARS Case 2004-D017 – "Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement; Combating Trafficking in Persons." 71 Fed. Reg. 62560 (Oct. 26, 2006).
The Project On Government Oversight ("POGO") is an independent nonprofit organization that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.
The Project On Government Oversight ( POGO ) is an independent nonprofit organization that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.
In August 2005, a tropical storm gathered strength and inched its way toward the United States. After reaching a nearly unprecedented level of strength, the now-Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, destroying houses, businesses, and critical infrastructure. In some cases, relief efforts started before Katrina hit landfall. The federal government has so far appropriated approximately $120 billion to respond to the relief, recovery, and reconstruction needs of the hurricane victims. POGO has identified several systemic failures in, and evaporating oversight controls of, the federal contracting process and recommends that government contracting laws and regulations need to be strengthened because of: 1. Poor Planning; 2. Inadequate Competition; 3. Lack of Accountability; and 4. Minimal Transparency.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit organization that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government. As such, POGO has a keen interest in government contracting matters, especially those relating to the ongoing activities of the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) Board in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP).
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. As such, our organization strongly supports every effort to promote full and open competition in government contracting. Competition allows for innovation, aggressive negotiations, and better deals for the taxpayer.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) proposed rule for “Clarification of NRC Civil Penalty Authority Over Contractors and Subcontractors Who Discriminate Against Employees for Engaging in Protected Activities.” 70 Fed. Reg. 5015 (January 31, 2006).
I wanted to provide additional comments and materials to the Acquisition Advisory Panel ("Panel") regarding some issues that were discussed during its November 29, 2005 meeting. First, I was surprised to learn that the Performance-Based Services Acquisition Working Group had not examined any specific performance based service acquisitions ("PBSAs") to determine how that contracting vehicle is working.
The Project On Government Oversight ( POGO ) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that has, for almost a quarter of a century, investigated, exposed and worked to remedy abuses of power, mismanagement and subservience to special interests by the federal government.
In response to the Acquisition Advisory Panel's (the "Panel") request for additional information, I present the following materials for the Panel's review of federal acquisition laws and regulations. I am fully aware of the daunting task and the accelerated schedule that are mandated in the Panel's Charter and I genuinely hope that the information and materials presented herein are a help to the Panel's efforts.
On January 31, 2005, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) issued a press release stating that the Acquisition Advisory Panel (Panel) is "dominated by contractor advocates – both inside and outside government." The Panel's August 18th meeting affirmed POGO's criticism of the independence of some Panel members.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is strongly opposed to the International Boundary and Water Commission's (IBWC's) attempt to award a contract without full and open competition.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to the Office of Government Ethics' (OGE) "Review of Criminal Conflict of Interest Statutes; Opportunity for Comment" notice published at 70 Federal Register 22661 (May 2, 2005).
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) appreciates the opportunity to comment on 70 Federal Register 14572 (March 23, 2005) – "Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement; Contractor Performance of Acquisition Functions Closely Associated With Inherently Governmental Functions."
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to GSAR ANPR 2005-N01: "Waiver of Consequential Damages and 'Post Award' Audit Provisions" published at 70 Federal Register 12167 (March 11, 2005 ) (subsequent corrections published at 70 Fed. Reg. 19051 and 70 Fed. Reg. 13005).
This comment is in response to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) Proposed Rule for "Protection of Safeguards Information" that was published in 70 Federal Register 7196 (February 11, 2005). The Project On Government Oversight (POGO), which has investigated safety and security issues at nuclear power plants since the mid-1990's, opposes the proposed rule's expansion of controls for unclassified "Safeguards Information" (SGI).
The Project On Government Oversight ("POGO") provides the following public comment to DFARS Case 2003-D109 – "Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement; Consolidation of Contract Requirements." POGO investigates, exposes, and seeks to remedy systemic abuses of power, mismanagement, and subservience by the federal government to powerful special interests.
The Project On Government Oversight ("POGO") provides the following public comment to proposed rule "Federal Acquisition Regulation; Share-in-Savings Contracting" published in 69 Federal Register 40514 (July 2, 2004). The proposed rule would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation ("FAR") to implement Section 210 of the E-Government Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-347), which authorizes government-wide use of share-in-savings ("SIS") contracts for information technology ("IT").
There is a revolving door between the government and large private contractors where conflict of interest is the rule, not the exception. Within the government contracting system, individuals move seamlessly between government and contractor positions, potentially subverting the contracting process. This practice is both accepted and entrenched. The Politics of Contracting details specific revolving door cases and sheds light on the flawed system that allows them. A contracting system where current and former public servants use their positions for private gain means powerful private corporations can rig the system in their favor. This skewed process costs taxpayers, limits or eliminates competition from businesses that may be the best for the job, and results in flawed policies and bad procurement decisions. In addition, the revolving door exacerbates public distrust, which can result in the decline in civic participation and it demoralizes career civil servants to see their supervisors and co-workers use their government positions as stepping stones for private gain.
This comment is in response to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) "Draft Criteria for Determining Feasibility of Manual Actions To Achieve Post-Fire Safe Shutdown" that was published in 68 Federal Register 66501 (November 26, 2003). Subsequently, the NRC extended the comment period to January 26, 2004.
Many of the U.S. government's largest contractors have been found to have repeatedly broken the law or engaged in misconduct, according to POGO's investigation. However, they are never even temporarily suspended, let alone debarred, from gaining additional government contracts, contrary to Reagan/Bush era laws. POGO's research found that, since 1990, 43 of the government's top contractors paid approximately $3.4 billion in fines/penalties, restitution, and settlements. Furthermore, four of the top 10 government contractors have at least two criminal convictions. And yet, only one of the top 43 contractors has been suspended or debarred from doing business with the government, and then, for only five days. Our report includes recommendations to improve the system to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not awarded to contractors with long rap sheets.
After a two-year investigation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), POGO's findings proved that for nearly twenty years the NRC has acquiesced to the nuclear industry by allowing significant safety problems to fester for years before they are actually, if ever, fixed. The NRC had not verified 389 high priority safety improvements that the operators claim to have fixed, or implemented, at every nuclear power plant in the United States. Additionally, there were 76 "high priority" safety improvements that remained unimplemented at a minimum of 62 different nuclear plants - some of which were "resolved" by the NRC as far back as 1978.
In 1995, the Boston Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel, more commonly known as the Big Dig, ran billions over budget and years behind schedule. Sold to Congress as a $2.3 billion project to be completed in 1998, the Big Dig far exceeded all cost estimates, ringing in at a stunning $14.6 billion. Building the most expensive highway project in the history of the United States, the contractors Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, drained federal money with virtually no government oversight. The lack of oversight produced flaws in design, rejection of cost saving alternatives, and problematic management practices.
The EPA is ignoring its own experts, as well as fire officials who are concerned about the potential dangers of explosions and/or fires caused by routine usage or storage of consumer aerosol products. Instead, the EPA is responding to pressure from the manufacturers of these products who are resistant to changing warning labels. Extrapolating from data the New York City Fire Department collected concerning the increase in fires and explosions caused by aerosols, an internal EPA memo estimated, . . ."when projected to the population of the U.S. at large, suggest an excess of 500 fires/explosions/year in this country."
SIGAR wants USAID to stop stonewalling about failures in Afghanistan reconstruction spending. USAID is protecting information, and some of their justifications are far fetched.
The Department of Defense doesn't want anyone, including the DoD Inspector General, to know who is going through the revolving door.
The White House raised the contractor compensation cap to nearly $1 million. That amount doesn't signify how much contractor can be paid; it only signifies how much will come from U.S. taxpayers. POGO supports efforts to significantly reduce the taxpayers' financial burden for paying exorbitant contractor compensation.
The Senate is taking up contractor compensation in the Defense Authorization bill. Different caps are on the table, but both are significantly lower than the House proposal, which might cause a battle during the conference committee meetings to finalize the bill.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan reconstruction is predicting an oversight access gap in the future. The troop drawdown is going to make it impossible to oversee many reconstruction projects that have been completed or are under construction.
POGO has proposed changes to the federal government's suspension and debarment system for years, and supports the proposed SUSPEND Act, which would consolidate the vast suspension and debarment system.
POGO urged the Defense Department Inspector General to expand its audit into domestic preference laws. The IG recently announced that is would expand the audit, and now it will investigate DoD compliance with the Berry Amendment and the Buy American Act.
The Army outlined plans to have soldiers work in dining halls and as security guards, removing contractors from those activities. Finding the right mix of military, civilian, and contractor personnel is essential to an effective military, and cost is a vital variable that should be considered.
DARPA improperly awards contracts, often without proper evaluations, required support or approvals, and checking the adequacy of contractor accounting systems.
Despite years of denying the existence of Area 51, the CIA, in response to a Freedom of information Request from the National Security Archive has finally confirmed that the Nevada base exists and that it is, indeed, named Area 51.
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is promoting the idea of allowing contracting personnel to rotate between the government and the private sector. But this proposal is the last thing we need if we want to enhance the federal acquisition workforce.
Chairman Issa's SUSPEND Act draft bill has been the subject of a hearing and a recent panel discussion. Although many contracting experts don't see a need for change, it might be time for legislation that will improve the suspension and debarment system and finally hold contractors accountable.
Potentially billions of taxpayer dollars may be going out the door to defense contractors without the normal scrutiny Defense Department auditors usually give to this spending. And it might be too late for the government to get our money back even when some of those contract dollars are examined and overcharges are found.
The Senate border security and immigration bill includes anti-taxpayer contracting provisions that run the risk of abuse. Competition and bid protests are important tools to ensure that costs are low, performance is high, laws are followed, and the process is fair.
The congressional effort to reduce the contractor compensation cap is still moving forward. That effort got a big boast last week when the GAO found that a cap reduction could result in hundreds of millions in savings, and that might only be the tip of the iceberg.
Today, the GAO released a report which found savings of at least $100 million a year if the government reduces the taxpayers' burden to compensate contractor employees. A reduction is needed and Congress should get serious about cutting federal spending.
This week, the House Armed Services Committee took up the long-debated issue of setting the contractor compensation benchmark in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. Section 813 includes language to set the cap at its current level of $763,029, but allows for cost adjustments.
GSA's new wireless agreement is being applauded for its cost savings and efficiencies. But does it really answer the call, especially after taking years to award?
The White House is backing down on its call to significantly reduce the cap on compensation for defense and civilian contractor employees.
The Department of Energy Inspector General found subcontract audit weaknesses with nine Management and Operating contractors. Subcontracts totaling nearly $1 billion had not been audited or were reviewed in a manner that did not meet audit standards, which can lead to waste and fraud of taxpayer dollars.
OMB's Norman Dong provided details about a federal agency with 13 comparable phone service plans that appear to be wasting taxpayer dollars.
The President's 2014 budget proposal includes proposals to improve the federal contracting system, which is a good start to save taxpayer dollars.
POGO supports the government's efforts to compare the cost of federal employees and contractors performing the same work because it currently lacks an effective way to compare the true costs when making hiring and contracting decisions.
Contractors are permitted to price or seek reimbursement from the government up to $763,029 in costs for each of their employees’ compensation packages. This is nearly twice the salary of the President of the United States. The President is calling for a reduction, and Congress is ready to act.
POGO has urged the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to implement the strongest possible prohibitions on trafficking in persons (TIP), but you can help fight human trafficking too.
The Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General (IG) released an inspection report detailing prime contractor employees who retire and then go to work as a subcontractor doing the same work in the same office but at a higher salary, which might not be good for taxpayers.
Access to federal government data on the size and cost of the contractor workforce needs improvement. Agencies still don't collect the data needed to understand the financial burden of millions of government and contractor workers.
Defense Department contractor employees are costing nearly 3 times more than an average DoD civilian employee, but little is being done by DoD and Congress to prevent such wasteful spending.
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) sent a letter to congressional and executive branch officials highlighting the Department of Defense’s (DoD) inability to provide sufficient oversight of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent each year to procure services from contractors and provide a cost efficient workforce.
The Project On Government Oversight and other groups are urging Congress to lower the amount of allowable compensation that contractor employees can bill to Pentagon contracts.
Single-bid contracts and lack of pricing data are preventing good buying at the Defense Department.
An Executive Order details guidance for a new anti-human trafficking rule that will prohibit U.S.-facilitated trafficking occurring abroad. The EO strengthens the government’s zero-tolerance policy rules governing trafficking in persons.
After an embarrassing security breach at Y-12 National Security Complex, POGO has learned the Department of Energy’s Office of Independent Oversight Program (IO) will conduct a full review of security at Y-12 before the end August 2012, including a force-on-force.
Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report entitled Results of Studies on Federal Pay Varied Due to Differing Methodologies (GAO-12-564).
There has been much talk about DoD spending cuts and the impact of sequestration. One way to realize savings would be to reduce the federal government's reimbursement of contractor compensation. The possible savings are in the billions.
Each year, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)--the massive defense spending bill--becomes an omnibus contracting bill of sorts. Generally, stand-alone contracting bills aren’t sexy enough for hearings or committee passage, so many of those bills are reintroduced as amendments to the NDAA.
POGO recently learned that DoD sent a legislative proposal to Congress to narrow the definition of a "commercial item" to mean goods or services that are actually sold to the general public in "like quantities." This proposal is a huge improvement over the current definition.
Last week, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) raised the amount the federal government will reimburse or price into government contracts for contractor executive compensation to $763,029.
Last week, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) proposed the Commonsense Contractor Compensation Act of 2012 (S. 2198) to reduce taxpayer reimbursement of government contractor compensation. The bill would apply a $400,000 compensation cap to all contractor employees, not just defense contractors as mandated in the 2012 Defense Authorization bill (see Sec. 803).
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to limit the amount of state funding for service providers to $200,000 per year, while the federal government keeps the cap at nearly $700,000.
Is the federal suspension and debarment system broken? The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) attempted to answer that question yesterday.
Longtime POGO fans will remember our work on Area 51. The Federation of American Scientists’ Steven Aftergood recently detailed a May 2005 emergency manual for the F-117A Stealth Fighter, detailing the aircraft’s dimensions, hazards, materials, and “hazardous byproducts of burning wreckage.” That information mirrors discovery requests by former Area 51 skilled laborers who developed mysterious illnesses from open air burning at the super secret Air Force facility.
An alarming case of judicial activism just in from Steve "James Brown" Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy follows below. This ruling would dramatically expand the risks for journalists and government oversight investigators.