Pentagon leaders put support contractors on notice for deep cuts

June 19, 2013 by

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his top budget deputy on Tuesday signaled they intend to make deep cuts in contractor personnel who help manage programs in almost every sector of the Pentagon bureaucracy.

The Defense Department today employs an estimated 700,000 service contractors who, in many cases, work side-by-side with the civilian and military workforce at installations across the country and worldwide.

The new shift can be expected to return some clout into the hands of civil service employees who work at half the cost or even less, reversing a decades-old trend of farming out program management increasingly to pricey hired hands in the defense industry.

“We are currently reviewing all contractors, all the contracts we have,” Hagel testified at a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing.

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Defense contractors fear blowback in wake of leak about NSA snooping

June 17, 2013 by

Defense  contractors with top-secret clearances are bracing for blowback from the  explosive National Security Agency (NSA) leaks scandal.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about two National  Security Agency programs has shaken the military-industrial complex, raising  questions about whether the government has lost control over who is cleared to  see sensitive information.

Experts said the new leaks, which follow massive disclosures to WikiLeaks by  Bradley Manning, a military intel analyst now on trial, could intensify pressure  on Washington to restrict access more tightly, as well as tighten the vetting of  those given clearances.

But it will be difficult — if not impossible — to impose control on a system  in which 1.4 million people now have some kind of clearance to see classified  information.

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Bleak outlook for global defense industry

June 12, 2013 by

Deloitte LLP’s 2013 “Global Defense Outlook,” released June 10, 2013, is basically all bad news. Even the silver linings turned to lead when we talked them over this morning with the chief of the defense practice at the giant consulting firm, retired Air Force Gen. Charles Wald.

As US defense spending staggers, there are some other places on the planet where military budgets are on the rise, from the usual suspects in East Asia and the Persian Gulf to unexpected players in Africa. The amounts, however, aren’t anywhere near big enough to offset US and European declines.

Defense ministries and contractors have gotten used to powerful growth since 9/11. Indeed, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute calculates the boom began even before that, with worldwide military expenditure rising every year since 1998 – until 2012, when they finally started down again. Of the (roughly) 195 countries in the world, just 50 account for 97 percent of global defense spending, the Deloitte study calculates, and, said Wald, that “top 50,” taken as a group, “are going to reduce their spending.”

That may or may not be good news for global peace, but it’s tough news for the defense industry.

It’s not just that the pie is getting smaller: Traditional defense firms’ percentage slice of that pie is shrinking as well. That’s because what little growth is happening is increasingly moving away from old-fashioned heavy metal – tanks, ships, planes – to information technology, from sensors to communications to cybersecurity. An invasion of IT companies from the much larger and more dynamic civilian economy hardly bodes well for traditional defense firms.

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Top 50 Defense Spenders Worldwide

Top 50 Defense Spenders Worldwide
Source: Deloitte LLP’s 2013 “Global Defense Outlook,” released June 10, 2013

8(a) contractor indicted on Federal charges of conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of justice, wire, and tax fraud

June 11, 2013 by

On May 20, 2013, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson and Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division Kathryn Keneally of the U.S. Attorney’s Office f0t the District of Idaho announced that a federal grand jury in Boise returned a 42-page Superseding Indictment this week that charges Elaine Martin, 66, of Meridian, Idaho, with making false statements, conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, and obstruction of justice. It also seeks forfeiture of over $9 million as the proceeds of the alleged crimes. Darrell Swigert, 67, of Boise, Idaho, is charged with obstructing and conspiring to obstruct a federal criminal proceeding.

Martin was the president and majority stockholder of Marcon, Inc., a Treasure Valley construction company. Swigert was a minority shareholder. An earlier indictment that charged only Martin, filed on March 13, 2013, was unsealed by the court today. A court date has not been set.

The Superseding Indictment charges Martin with four counts of making and subscribing a false tax return, two counts of conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud, one count of making a false statement, five counts of mail fraud, four counts of interstate transportation of property taken by fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, and one count of obstructing justice.

The Superseding Indictment alleges that as early as 2000, and continuing through January 2012, Martin took steps to lower her personal net worth, such as acquiring, holding and transferring assets into the names of nominees. According to the Superseding Indictment, this and other alleged conduct enabled Martin to successfully apply for and be admitted into the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) Program. The Superseding Indictment alleges that Martin’s actions also allowed Marcon to fraudulently maintain its certification with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, in the states of Idaho and Utah. The SBA 8(a) Program and DBE Program are designed to help economically and socially disadvantaged business compete in the marketplace. Both programs require applicants to show that their personal net worth is below a certain statutory threshold. The Superseding Indictment alleges that Martin remained in control of her assets while appearing to meet the personal net worth requirements of both programs.

According to the Superseding Indictment, Martin also caused false and fraudulent tax returns to be filed for herself and Marcon, Inc., which did not report all of the income received by Martin or the company. These false returns were allegedly submitted in support of Marcon’s applications to the SBA 8(a) Program and DBE Programs for Idaho and Utah, along with allegedly false personal financial statements. According to the Superseding Indictment, Martin caused the financial books and records for Marcon to be false by purposefully omitting, deleting, altering or mis-categorizing entries. The Superseding Indictment further alleges that Martin concealed her role or relationship in other business entities that dealt with Marcon, Inc.

While a participant in the SBA 8(a) Program, the Superseding Indictment alleges that Martin sought to conceal withdrawals of capital that exceeded the SBA 8(a) Program limits by executing loans with her family members and with entities that she controlled.

The Superseding Indictment charges that Marcon received more than $2.5 million in government contracts based on the company’s fraudulently obtained SBA 8(a) status. The Superseding Indictment further alleges that Marcon received more than $6 million in government contracts based on the company’s fraudulently obtained DBE status in the states of Idaho and Utah.

Both Martin and Swigert are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice by fabricating documents and making false statements that sought to conceal the true nature, source, and extent of property belonging to Martin. According to the Superseding Indictment, Martin and Swigert fabricated a loan document and document that purported to memorialize a gift in order to impede a civil audit by the IRS and criminal investigation by the IRS and U.S. Attorney’s Office. Swigert is also charged with a second count of obstruction of justice based on allegedly false statements that he made to conceal the nature, source, and extent of property belonging to Martin.

The government seeks forfeiture of $9,237,722.10, which represents the proceeds that Martin obtained as a result of the alleged offenses.

“Those who seek federal contracts and seek to benefit from federal funds have a solemn obligation to deal honestly and openly with the federal government,” said Olson. “This office will continue to work side-by-side with its federal program partners to ensure that fraud is thoroughly investigated and, where appropriate, vigorously prosecuted.”

“The 8(a) Business Development Program is designed to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace and offers significant benefits to eligible small businesses,” said Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson of the Small Business Administration. “Preferences for federal contract awards must not be given to persons who lie in order to claim eligibility. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their commitment to seek justice on behalf of the American taxpayer.”

“Those who commit tax fraud and fraudulently benefit from government programs are cheating honest taxpayers. IRS-Criminal Investigations will work diligently with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in these illegal activities are vigorously investigated and brought to justice,” said Stephen Boyd, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge for the State of Idaho.

“The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program is a business assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) which helps economically and socially disadvantaged small businesses compete in the marketplace. DBE fraud harms the integrity of the program and adversely impacts law-abiding, small business contractors trying to compete on a level playing field,” said William Swallow, regional Special Agent-in-Charge of the DOT’s Office of Inspector General. “Working with our Federal, State, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues, we will vigorously pursue those who violate the law, and expose and shut down fraud schemes that adversely affect public trust and DOT-assisted highway programs.”

Each charge of making and subscribing a false return, as charged in counts one through four, is punishable by up to three years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charge of conspiracy, as charged in counts five, twelve, and23, is punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. Each count of wire fraud, as charged in counts six through ten, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to five years of supervised release. The charge of making a false statement, as charged in count 11, is punishable by up to two years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to one year of supervised release. Each charge of mail fraud, as charged in counts 13 through 16, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to five years of supervised release. Each charge of interstate transportation of property taken by fraud, as charged in counts 18 through 21, is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, as charged in count 22 is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, count 23, and obstruction of justice, counts 24 and 25, are each punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

The case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The announcement is part of an effort by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), created in November 2009, to combat financial fraud crimes by waging aggressive, coordinated and proactive investigations and prosecutions. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, the task force is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit

An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Ohio business owners pay $2.9 million to settle DBE fraud case

June 10, 2013 by

Prominent Washington Township (Ohio) developers David C. and Shery Oakes, along with their former business partner Sherif Aziz, have agreed to pay the U.S. government nearly $2.9 million to settle civil claims that they defrauded the government by making false statements about a civil engineering company called TesTech to obtain millions of dollars in federally funded transportation contracts.

Federal prosecutors allege the Oakeses and Aziz submitted false claims for payment for airport and highway projects in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan from April 2005 to June 2009. They did it, prosecutors say, by holding out Aziz as TesTech’s owner and president to qualify for a federal minority set-aside program while the company actually was owned and controlled by the millionaire Oakeses.

The Oakeses’ attorney, David N. Reed of Dayton, said the couple would have no comment. David Oakes owns a civil engineering company called CESO Inc. and Shery Oakes is owner of luxury home builder Design Homes and Development Co. Their company and TesTech are all located in Washington Twp. Aziz’s attorney, William E. Hunt of Cincinnati, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In a settlement agreement released to the Dayton Daily News on Thursday by federal officials, the Oakeses and Aziz admit no liability and the government reserves its right to bring criminal charges. The parties agree that the government has a valid claim against the defendants for more than $5 million, and the government can go after the full amount if the defendants try to avoid their obligation to pay the settlement amount of $2,883,946.30.

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Pentagon’s top contracting official: Sequestration’s cuts could continue into FY14, disproportionately affecting small businesses

June 5, 2013 by

Sequestration spending cuts could continue into 2014, and the impact of the deep cuts will fall disproportionately on small business, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official told a Navy industry forum on Monday of this week (June 3, 2013).

“It’s a reasonable possibility that we will go into 2014 with sequestration still underway,” said Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. “A lot of things we planned on doing we won’t be able to do.”

Last month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Defense Department employees he could not guarantee that the budget situation would ease next year.

Kendall’s comments to the 2013 Navy Opportunity Forum in Arlington, Va., come three months into a budget sequester that is taking $41 billion out of the Pentagon budget this fiscal year, leading to cuts across the military in everything from operations and deployments to training and readiness. Furloughs are set to begin in July for about 85 percent of the Defense Department’s 767,000 civilian employees.

In the sequestration environment, Kendall said, the department needs to be more proactive in taking care of the small businesses that contract with the military.

“The cuts we are going to experience potentially will fall on small businesses,” more than on large military contractors, he said, adding that cuts in research and development worry him as well. “Potential adversaries are modernizing at a rate which makes me nervous,” he told the group, which included representatives of companies that produce advanced technologies funded by Navy programs.

Kendall said the department is about to conclude its strategic choices and management review, which Hagel ordered to provide department leaders with options given the current budget environment as well as the prospect of future spending cuts.

“What would we have to do at the department if we had to take $50 billion a year out over the long term? That would be pretty devastating,” Kendall said, mentioning one such scenario being considered by the review.

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Most top contractors increased business with federal government in 2012

May 28, 2013 by

A majority of the top 200 government contractors made more money on federal awards last year than in 2011, despite major budgetary cutbacks, according to a report released Wednesday.

Overall, the federal government spent $516.3 billion on contracts in fiscal 2012, down 3.1 percent from fiscal 2011’s total of $532.6 billion, the largest year-over-year decline in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1997, the analysis said. Sixty-four percent of that total went to the top 200 companies doing business with the government.

Bloomberg Government, which published the report, analyzed data from 24 agencies and departments, and in 20 categories of federal purchases. Bloomberg found that many contractors were able to maintain or increase business by focusing on sectors that were not subject to “budget pressures,” such as space vehicles, drones, health information technology and cybersecurity.

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Sham minority contractors have been hired in your city, probably

May 22, 2013 by

Philadelphia Inspector General Amy Kurland announced last week that local contractors have used “sham minority subcontractors” on 19 projects to skirt antidiscrimination requirements.

In New York, investigations into fraudulent hiring of minority- and women-owned subcontractors are so common that they have become something of a specialty for local prosecutors. The most recent instance was a $10 million settlement reached with Siemens Electrical.

The story is the same in Chicago, Seattle and Dallas. And that’s just in the last few years. Go back further, and it’s the rare city or state that hasn’t endured a scandal or four tied to well-intentioned minority contracting regulations.

The particulars of the rules vary from city to city and state to state, but the objective is always the same: Foster economic development in minority communities by requiring (or strongly encouraging) companies awarded public contracts to hire subcontractors owned by minorities or women.

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GSA will pay $3M to more than 1,000 contractors kicked out of schedules program

May 20, 2013 by

The General Services Administration collectively owes more than one thousand  contractors more than $3 million because the agency failed to pay off vendors  after kicking them out of the schedules program. The finding came as the result  of an investigation by the House Small Business Committee.

The agency failed to pay some terminated contractors a $2,500 guarantee it  makes to all vendors that join the schedules program.

“The General Services Administration has owned up to their mistake and will  distribute payment this year,” said Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.).

If schedule holders don’t make at least $25,000 worth of schedule sales in the  first two years and $25,000 annually thereafter, GSA may cancel the contracts.

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Sequester delays some contract awards

May 10, 2013 by

Many of the government’s biggest pending contracts are encountering significant delays.

Among the 20 largest pending contracts, the Army is facing delays in awarding six procurements worth nearly $22 billion combined, according to new estimates from Deltek, a market research firm.

“We’ve noticed the delays,” said Jennifer Sakole, principal analyst for federal information services at Deltek, speaking about pending solicitations not just in the defense sector but across the government.

“We think that a number of those delays are a direct result of contracting offices waiting to receive guidance in regards to specific cuts if they’re going to impact these programs,” Sakole said. “So they’re waiting to move forward until they receive that guidance.”

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