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Project on Government Oversight

POGO urges the DOD IG to investigate CIRCUITS and an apparent employee retaliation action

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July 23, 2008 | By: Scott H. Amey, J.D.

Department of Defense
Mr. Gordon S. Heddell
Acting Inspector General
400 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA 22202-4704


Dear Mr. Heddell:

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.

On July 7, 2008, POGO sent a letter to Secretary Winter detailing concerns we have with the shutdown of a Navy program, the Centralized and Integrated Reporting for the Comprehensive Utilities Information Tracking System (CIRCUITS). POGO has learned that the civilian Navy CIRCUITS program manager, Richard Bowen, is the subject of a termination action. Mr. Bowen has attempted to bring the CIRCUITS program back online and has attempted to remedy concerns that his team had found related to waste, fraud, and abuse within Navy utility systems. POGO urges you to investigate the CIRCUITS program and the apparent retaliation, if left unchallenged, undoubtedly will cost taxpayers money and establish a chilling effect for good government advocates inside the government.

CIRCUITS is a Navy-wide consolidated resource that will collect utility data for all Navy shore and Marine Corps activities that deliver, produce, purchase, or sell utility services. CIRCUITS would manage the dollars associated with each utility and automate the invoice and accrual processes while capturing utility procurement data. Simply stated, if brought back online, CIRCUITS would allow the Navy to gather utility information to better manage its budgeting and spending on electricity, water, and gas utilities.

Currently, the Navy does not have a true cost model. As a result, it has no true understanding of its utility usage, spending, or controls. Simultaneous operation of multiple utility systems results in duplication of data entry, data errors, labor-intensive calls to vendors, gaps in functionality, and wasteful spending (i.e., duplicate payments, overbilling, and late charges). Records obtained by POGO show that the Navy paid approximately $591,000 in unnecessary late charges in FY 2007. Sources close to the CIRCUITS program estimate that the Navy could be paying as much as $5 to $10 million each year in late fees as well as an additional $5 to $10 million in overcharges and duplicate utility payments.

POGO was disturbed to learn that some personnel within the chain of command were concerned that the CIRCUITS program would expose long-term waste and mismanagement in its utility planning and spending program. The internal dealings might explain the shutdown of the CIRCUITS program and the adverse action taken against Mr. Bowen. Mr. Bowen has also tried to advise his superiors of other deficiencies, but it seems his chain of command might be more concerned with their reputations than dealing with the financial and technical issues with running a modern utility and energy infrastructure.

POGO urges you to conduct an investigation into the discontinued CIRCUITS program as well as what appears to be a retaliatory action taken against Mr. Bowen. Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 347-1122.

Sincerely,


Scott H. Amey
General Counsel
scott@pogo.org


cc: The Honorable Dr. Donald C. Winter
Secretary of the Navy
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1000

Office of the Naval Inspector General
Attn:  Navy Hotline
Building 172
1254 Ninth Street, S.E.
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5006

 

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