Federal rule on pay transparency effective Jan. 11, 2016

OFCCPThe Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has published a final rule implementing President Obama’s executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against employees for discussing or inquiring about their own compensation or that of other employees. The final rule takes effect January 11, 2016 for covered federal contractors.


On April 8, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13665, which prohibits federal contractors from maintaining pay secrecy policies. This executive order amended section 202 of Executive Order 11246, which requires federal agencies to include an equal opportunity (EO) clause in all government contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=427780

See earlier article on this subject here: http://gtpac.org/2014/09/25/proposed-rule-prohibits-federal-contractors-from-firing-employees-who-discuss-pay/

Industry group says OMB cybersecurity guidance too lax

Often, vendor advocates speak out against overly specific regulations that put additional requirements on federal contractors. However, when it comes to cybersecurity, the Professional Services Council believes new guidance from the Office of Management and Budget doesn’t go far enough.

Professional Services Council - PSCIn a recent letter to OMB, PSC leadership decried the agency’s memo on Improving Cybersecurity Protections in Federal Acquisitions as being too lenient to provide good security and too open-ended to be properly interpreted by agencies and companies vying for federal contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/cybersecurity/2015/09/14/psc-cybersecurity-contract-guidance/72261358/

Top DoD acquisition official eases contractor fears about new Better Buying Power rules

Federal contractors shouldn’t worry about the Defense Department ramping up its oversight of independent research funding, said the DoD’s top acquisition official at an event in Arlington, Va. on Wednesday.

Frank Kendall, DoD undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told an audience at a Professional Service’s Council luncheon that by placing the funding under tighter scrutiny, DoD isn’t trying to dictate the kind of research coming out of the private sector.

Better Buying Power 3.0Contractors have taken issue with a section of the newest iteration of the Better Buying Power 3.0 Initiative which would add time and costs to the review process for DoD contracts participating in independent research and development, or IRAD.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/top-dod-aquisition-official-eases-contractor-fears-about-new-better-buying/2015-09-03

President mandates paid sick leave for federal contractors, says DOL rule on contractor pay transparency is imminent

The latest in a string of presidential actions targeting employers that do business with the federal government is a new Executive Order (EO) that will require federal contractors to provide their employers with paid sick leave.  Signed on Labor Day 2015 and effective in 2017, the EO will permit employees working on federal contracts to earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

White House sealAccording to a White House fact sheet, the paid leave mandate will affect approximately 300,000 workers.

The White House also announced that the Department of Labor (DOL) will issue a final rule this week to implement Executive Order 13665, which adds pay transparency requirements to existing federal contractor obligations.  Specifically, this EO, signed into law on April 8, 2014, adds new prohibitions on discrimination based on the inquiry, discussion, or disclosure of pay.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=425662

Former employee of government contractor pleads guilty to bribing subcontractors in Afghanistan

An ex-employee of a U.S. contractor pleaded guilty to charges of bribery in connection with a federal program and could serve nearly four years in prison, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

George E. Green, a former director of contracts and procurement for International Relief and Development Inc., or IRD, admitted to bribing an Afghan company that sought subcontracts from the company.

USAIDUnder contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the company was selected to “strengthen economic stabilization and promote long-term agricultural development in specific areas in Afghanistan,” DOJ says in a statement.

In March and April 2012, Green solicited and received a $51,000 bribe from a representative of an Afghan company that provided agriculture-related products and sought subcontracts from IRD.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/former-employee-government-contractor-pleads-guilty-bribing-subcontractors/2015-09-10

Former Georgia National Guard employee and two vendors sentenced in corruption scheme

Raytosha Elliott, a former contracting official with the Georgia National Guard, and the owners of two vendor companies have been sentenced to federal prison for a corruption scheme wherein Elliott awarded contracts to the vendors in exchange for illegal kickbacks.

Georgia National Guard“Elliott took advantage of her position with the Georgia National Guard, and awarded no-bid contracts to her friends in exchange for illegal kickbacks,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn.  “She and two of her friends stole over $150,000 in funds that were intended to maintain defense facilities and instead spent the money on themselves.”

“The sentencing of these individuals to federal prison will not only hold them accountable for their greed based criminal conduct, but will also send a clear message to others that might consider a similar scheme.  The FBI will continue to work with its various law enforcement partners to ensure that those individuals engaged in these types of activities are identified, investigated and presented for federal prosecution,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

FBI Seal“Corruption at any level diminishes the hard work and dedication of the thousands of government employees who are dedicated to providing honest services to the American public,” stated Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, Acting Special Agent in Charge. “IRS Criminal Investigation stands committed to weed out individuals who misuse their job as a path to financial success by using greed and corruption.”

“This is a prime example of our determination, along with our fellow law enforcement agencies, to investigate allegations of criminal activity and corruption involving the National Guard and other DOD entities,” said Frank Robey, Director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.   “Regardless of the ‘scope and size’ of the allegations, our CID Special Agents are committed to working side-by-side with other agencies to help eradicate this type of activity.”

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service is committed to protecting the integrity of the DOD contracting process, including the GA National Guard,” said John F. Khin, Special Agent in Charge, Southeast Field Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. “This sentencing sends a message to individuals who fail to follow the rules that along with our other law enforcement partners, violators will be brought to justice.”

“Accountability of violators is paramount when dealing with public corruption.  GBI’s partnership with the FBI in the Public Corruption Task Force is essential for continued public trust in Georgia.  When those who violate the law and violate public trust are held accountable, and go to jail – if this occurs, it sends a clear message that public corruption is not acceptable in this state,” said Vernon Keenan, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“We hope these sentences serve as a deterrent to those who desire to pilfer the state and federal governments’ coffers. We also believe this case exemplifies how multiple agencies can work together to achieve a common goal: to serve the public who depends on us to defend the integrity of government programs. As in this case, our office will remain dedicated to protecting taxpayers’ money by continuously pursuing fraud, waste, abuse and corruption within the executive branch of state government,” said Deb Wallace, State Inspector General, Georgia Office of the Inspector General.

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court:  From May 2007 through April 2012, Elliott worked for the Georgia Department of Defense, the state agency charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the Georgia National Guard.  Elliott worked as an Engineering Operations Manager at the Clay National Guard Center, located at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, in Marietta, Georgia.

In that position, Elliott worked with engineering firms to develop bid-ready construction projects, prepared bid documents, and oversaw no-bid purchase orders.  Under the rules governing the contracting process that Elliott oversaw, projects that cost less than $5,000 did not need to go through a competitive bidding process, allowing Elliott to award the contracts.  She certified that the work had been completed for those projects, and facilitated payment to the vendors who allegedly completed such projects.

Elliott awarded numerous contracts under $5,000 to vendor companies created by her friends and associates, including co-defendants Lakeysha Ellis and Angela Thicklin (f/k/a Angela Stanback Kinlaw).  In return, Ellis and Thicklin paid Elliott kickbacks, equal to 50% of the value of the contracts, for steering contracts to Ellis’ vendor company, Total Source Solution, LLC, and to Thicklin’s vendor company, 3M Construction LLC.

Elliott awarded Total Source Solution 17 contracts with a total value of approximately $75,000.  Elliott awarded 3M Construction 18 contracts with a total value of approximately $78,000.  The contracts were for a variety of services supposedly to be performed by the two companies, including electrical work, landscaping, and HVAC work.  But the work was never done.  Instead, the defendants split the money awarded under the contracts and spent it on personal items, including travel, meals, and merchandise.  As part of the scheme, Elliott owned a company named Tech Group Investments, LLC.  Ellis and Thicklin took money they received from the Georgia National Guard contracts, and paid kickbacks to Elliott through that company.  Elliott falsely certified that the work had been completed to facilitate payment by the Georgia National Guard.

Elliott and Ellis engaged in a similar fraud scheme from January 2009, through May 2011, when Ellis was an accountant at Baumueller-Nuermont Corporation, an industrial equipment company with offices in Atlanta.  Her job responsibilities included payroll and paying vendors.

While employed as Baumueller-Nuermont’s accountant, Ellis fraudulently funneled money to the defendants’ two sham companies, Total Source Solution and Tech Group Investments.  Ellis wrote corporate checks to Total Source Solution, signed her name on the checks, and forged the signature of the Vice President on the checks, to ensure that the checks could be negotiated.  Ellis recorded these payments in the check registry to reflect falsely that the checks had been issued to true vendors (such as American Express) when in fact they went to Ellis’ company.

As part of the scheme, Ellis also falsified employee records in the corporation’s payroll system to disguise payments to the defendants’ two companies.  Ellis created phantom employees by altering the names of real employees (by switching their first and last names) and slightly changing their Social Security numbers.  She then caused the payroll system to make fraudulent salary payments to Total Source Solution and Tech Group Investments for these new, non-existent employees.

Baumueller-Nuermont lost about $85,000 from this scheme.

Raytosha Elliott, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced yesterday to two years, ten months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $115,902 in restitution to the Georgia National Guard and $26,500 in restitution to Baumueller-Nuermont Corporation by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg.  Elliott was also ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to WebBank based on a fraudulent loan application she submitted to the bank in September 2013.  In that application, Elliott falsely inflated Tech Group Investments’ sales and gross receipts, and provided a fraudulent federal tax return in support of those figures, to obtain the loan. She was also ordered to perform 60 hours community service.

Lakeysha Ellis, 37, of Decatur, Georgia, was sentenced to nine months in prison and three years of supervised release, and three months of home confinement.  She was also ordered to pay $74,902 in restitution to the Georgia National Guard and $81,487.88 in restitution to Baumueller-Nuermont Corporation.  Both defendants previously pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy.

Today, Angela Thicklin, 45, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to one year, nine months in prison and three years of supervised release including ordered to pay $78,640 in restitution to the Georgia National Guard by Judge Totenberg.  Thicklin previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command; and Deputy Inspectors General of the State of Georgia Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen H. McClain prosecuted the case.

Source: http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga/pr/former-georgia-national-guard-employee-and-two-vendors-sentenced-corruption-scheme

Despite bid-rigging and kick-backs, firm reincarnates itself to receive contracts in both NC and SC

A newly formed highway construction company has landed more than $27 million in new government projects across the Carolinas despite its deep ties to a discredited North Carolina paving firm barred from bidding on state contracts.

NCDOTAn Associated Press review shows Lynches River Contracting sprang into existence after Carl “Drew” Boggs pleaded guilty in August 2014 in a bid-rigging and kickback scheme involving $88 million in highway projects for his company, Boggs Paving. By court orders, Boggs Paving is barred from bidding on contracts as are its affiliates, companies with interlocking management, and those with a “common use of employees.”

Nevertheless, Boggs’ brother — and a co-owner of the barred company — David “Chris” Boggs signed paperwork last September creating Lynches River at the address of an existing Boggs Paving affiliate. He then turned ownership over to two trusts the brothers established to benefit their children. The new company also named Boggs Paving managers as its president and vice president.

SCDOTThe setup means Boggs Paving “can essentially continue to generate economic wealth for their families, which indirectly benefits the debarred wrongdoers,” South Carolina Inspector General Patrick Maley wrote in a report Thursday. Maley said the situation raised serious concerns but appeared to be legal, and he recommended new regulations to prevent similar situations in the future.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.oaoa.com/news/government/article_85ac2c31-3bff-5cf5-bef9-ec1657c1afc5.html

GSA, 18F award first set of contracts to 16 companies for ‘agile’ development services

The General Services Administration has announced that 16 companies were selected to sell so-called ‘agile’ software development services to federal agencies through a governmentwide contract – the first of three sets of contracts to be awarded.

‘Agile’ is an approach that federal agencies are increasingly using to develop software in increments, typically in a few weeks to a few months, rather than wait two to three years until such a project is delivered.

18F at GSAThe department’s in-house consulting firm, called 18F, pushed for the blanket purchase agreement. In an Aug. 28 blog post, members wrote that there was “explosive” demand for their services to build products for agencies through the agile process.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/gsa-18f-award-first-set-contracts-16-companies-agile-development-services/2015-08-31

Contractors and former civilian employee sentenced in bribery scheme at Albany Marine Corps base

A former civilian employee and a former contractor of the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany, Georgia, as well as one outside contractor were sentenced on Thursday, September 10, 2015 to prison terms for bribery and fraud arising from their handling of military trucking contracts and theft of surplus military equipment.

Justice Dept. sealAssistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia made the announcement.

Christopher Whitman, 48, of Sylvester, Georgia, co-owner of United Logistics, an Albany-based trucking company and freight transportation broker, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his conviction of 43 counts of honest services wire fraud, five counts of bribery, five counts of obstructing justice and one count of theft of government property.  Shawn McCarty, 36, of Albany, Georgia, a former employee at the MCLB-Albany, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his conviction of 15 counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of bribery and one count of obstructing justice.  Bradford Newell, 43, of Sylvester, a former contractor at the MCLB-Albany, was sentenced to five years in prison for his conviction of 13 counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of bribery, and one count of theft of government property.  All three were found guilty by a jury in the Middle District of Georgia on March 3, 2015, following a five-week trial.

In addition to imposing the prison terms, the court ordered each defendant to forfeit assets reflecting losses to the government attributable to the bribery and fraud schemes.  Whitman was ordered to forfeit $18,860,313.75; McCarty was ordered to forfeit $15,410,151.55; and Newell was ordered to forfeit $513,600.  Whitman was specifically ordered to surrender assets derived from the schemes, including more than 100 parcels of real property, several boats and vehicles, and rental income estimated to be worth more than $14 million.

DLAAccording to the evidence presented at trial, between 2008 and 2012, Whitman paid more than $800,000 in bribes to three former officials of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at the MCLB-Albany, including McCarty, to obtain commercial trucking contracts from the base.  The evidence showed that contracts included unnecessary costly provisions, such as expedited service, expensive trailers and exclusive use (i.e., a requirement that freight be shipped separately from other equipment).  Evidence presented at trial and in a post-trial forfeiture hearing established that Whitman’s company grossed more than $37 million, and resulted in government losses and an improper benefit to Whitman of more than $20 million.

The evidence further demonstrated that Whitman paid nearly $200,000 in bribes to Newell and the former inventory control manager of the Distribution Management Center at MCLB-Albany, both of whom used their official positions to help Whitman steal from the base more than $1 million in surplus military equipment, including bulldozers, cranes and front-end loaders.  According to the trial evidence, in exchange for the bribe payments, Newell and the inventory control manager removed the surplus items from Marine Corps inventory and arranged to have them transported off the base by Whitman’s company.  The evidence showed that, after having the equipment refurbished, Whitman sold it to private purchasers.

Five other individuals have pleaded guilty to their roles in the corruption and fraud schemes.  In October 2013, Kelli Durham, the former manager of Whitman’s company, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitting to intentionally overbilling the United States for services the company did not perform, resulting in losses ranging from $7 million to $20 million.  In May 2013, Mitchell Potts and Jeffrey Philpot pleaded guilty to bribery for collectively accepting more than $700,000 in bribes from Whitman.  In February 2013, Shelby Janes pleaded guilty to bribery for receiving nearly $100,000 in bribes from Whitman.  These defendants have not yet been sentenced.  In February 2014, C.W. Smith, a Whitman associate who helped arrange the sale of the surplus military equipment Whitman stole from the base, pleaded guilty to theft of government property.

NCISThe case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Dougherty County, Georgia, District Attorney’s Office; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; DLA Office of the Inspector General; and the Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General.  The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief J.P. Cooney and Trial Attorney Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia.  The forfeiture is being handled by Assistant Deputy Chief Darrin McCullough of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Georgia.

Source: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-contractors-and-one-former-civilian-employee-sentenced-bribery-scheme-georgia-military

Energy IG: Solyndra knowingly ripped-off government

There’s plenty of blame to go around in the green-energy debacle of Solyndra, but the blame begins with the executives of the solar-panel company itself.

Energy Dept.That’s a big takeaway from the Energy Department inspector general’s new report on Solyndra, a company once highly touted by the White House that collapsed in 2011 after getting a $535 million federal loan two years earlier.

The IG’s report finds that executives with the California company, ahead of winning the loan, repeatedly gave the Energy Department, the credit-rating agency Fitch, and outside analysts bad, overly rosy information about its sales contracts.

“Our investigation confirmed that during the loan guarantee application process and while drawing down loan proceeds, Solyndra provided the Department with statements, assertions, and certifications that were inaccurate and misleading, misrepresented known facts, and, in some instances, omitted information that was highly relevant to key decisions in the process to award and execute the $535 million loan guarantee,” the report states.

“In our view, the investigative record suggests that the actions of certain Solyndra officials were, at best, reckless and irresponsible or, at worst, an orchestrated effort to knowingly and intentionally deceive and mislead the Department,” it adds.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2015/08/energy-report-solyndra-knowingly-ripped-government/119582/