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Jan 05, 2012

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M Ed Steen

With respect to one of the names mentioned in the revolving door article, to suggest that he brings with him any "watchdog" skills is a confirmation that the author knows nothing about the man. His skills are in personal salesmanship and the ability to extrapolate extremely limited factual data into attention grabbing conclusions which coincidentally appears to be a skillset of most journalists as well.

Kate

I wish someone would dig deeper into the ongoing waste at DCAA. I almost believe some of these other posts that someone wanted to get rid of Stephenson so that DCAA could be run the way it is today. DCAA is management heavy and the only thing managemnet cares about is never issuing a report. We are paying 5,000 people to document files and write reports that never see the light of day. Does this serve any purpose? The scandal at DCAA is huge.

Carol

C. Tiefer - let's get real, DynCorp hired Thibault for one reason. So they can say that they have the former co-chair of the Commission on staff. It's called the revolving door. If DynCorp was serious about fixing their systems, they would have done so long ago. There are plenty of good consultants that could have done the job. But it takes changing the culture and spending money, neither of which DynCorp has any interest in doing. I understand your loyalty to Thibault given he was your ally on the Commission. It is shame you did not show the same loyalty to the prior DCAA Director when she lost her job. Without DCAA's support, you would not have had much to talk about.

Ed

To Charles Tiefer: I have over the last few years respected your efforts as a Commissioner on the CWC. But I have to differ with your opinion of DynCorp. I had direct involvement with oversight of DynCorp during the last five years and I can attest that DynCorp has no interest in spending money on compliance with Government rules and regulations. It is distressing that as a Member of the CWC you did not see through DynCorp's tactics. The hiring of Mike Thibault is merely smoke and mirrors and I would have expected more from you. I am also surprised that you did not comment on my posting (and that of Charles Smith) concerning the CWC ignoring retaliation on witnesses that came before the CWC and in particular, the former Director of DCAA, April Stephenson. She put the Commission on the map with her testimony and provided endless information and data when no other organziation would provide such data. I would have thought you would have been more grateful for her dedication to the mission of the CWC and yet the CWC just turned their back on Stephenson when she was reassigned. I realize that you did your best as a Commissioner and I appreciate that you were often the lone voice of contractor accountability.

Charles Tiefer

I am glad Neil Gordon's piece included the correct comment, "Unlike some revolving door situations, the hiring of Michael Thibault and Gordon Heddell seems based more on higher principle than on purely political or economic gain. We can only hope that the skills they developed as watchdogs and fighters of fraud, waste, and abuse will continue to serve the public interest.

As a Commissioner, on the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was blunt in my criticism -- at hearings and in the press -- of many contractors, including Dyncorps. I had the full permission in this of Mike Thibault -- including during the trip he and I took to Kabul and Kandahar, which he undertook with contagious enthusiasm, and where he indulged me in my making inquiries to, and about, Dyncorps as tough as I liked.

Dyncorps has a very big problem with its accounting systems. A huge problem. I believe Dyncorps is seeking Mike Thibault's help as a way to seriously undertake making those systems work. This is just as you say about how Mike's skills will continue to help the public interest. Because we -- our government -- badly need him working on those systems. Dyncorps is crucial in Afghanistan -- not just for providing the logistics support in Southern Afghanistan, but also for having won that fine event, the first full competition for training the Afghan police. No one cares as much as Mike about solving problems of accounting systems such as Dyncorps. So it is good that he's doing it.

Ed

Charles Smith is correct about Stephenson. Those of us that worked closely with her know that her removal was due to her disclosures to the CWC and not the GAO reports as the Pentagon would like you to believe. It was way too convenient for the Comptroller to reassign her after the issuance of the GAO report in September 2009. But the Comptroller had planned to reassign her after her CWC testimony in May 2009 on the LOGCAP program, he was just waiting for the right time. This was the hearing that put the CWC on the map and also got Stephenson in trouble with the DoD Deputy Secretary for not "supporting" DoD.

The CWC including Thibault were well aware of the Comptroller's retaliation against Stephenson. For Stephenson's last hearing in November 2009 covering the draw down in Irag, the Comptroller contacted Thibault and requested that Stephenson be withdrawn as a witness. This was after DCAA issued the report stating that KBR had actually increased staffing during the period that the Army stated KBR had reduced staffing. The Comptroller demanded that Stephenson withdraw the report as it was very damanging to DOD and Stephenson refused. Although Thibault refused to withdraw Stephenson as a witness, the CWC did nothing to protect her against retaliation. At the very least, it should have been mentioned in the hearing that DoD had requested that Stephenson be pulled as a witness.

The CWC saw it coming and Co-Chair Shays had asked Stephenson at one point whether she feared for her job due to the information she disclosed regarding inappropriate actions by the Army, DCMA, and others in the Pentagon. She answered yes, and yet Thibault and the other CWC members did nothing. Even Haddell was aware of the retailation as Stephenson discussed it with him on more than one occasion and he, like others, did nothing to protect her as a witness to the CWC.

The revolving door is alive and well. Heddell and Thibault are not hired for this expertise, they are hired for their name. Nothing will change for these contractors. Let's not forget that Thibault worked for Navigant when they were consultants for KBR. Nothing changed for KBR as a result.

POGO, I have blogged more than once since 2009 about the retailation against Stephenson for her disclosures to the CWC. I ask that you conduct an investigation into this matter. Start with Stephenson, she'll confirm the facts in this blog including Bob Hale's request to Thibault to remove her as a witness after DCAA issued a very damaging report. It is not good enough to post blogs, POGO, you need to be more aggressive in your actions and stop being PC when it comes to your favorite members of Congress.

Capt. Gregorio De Falco

Charles Smith is right on about the DoD IG and CWC and those that led it. I brought so much first hand knowledge about the oversight negligence in Iraq and those responsible for it to both bodies which they inexplicably ignored outright or dithered with in languishing investigations. Nothing has changed in contract oversight, but so many parties are confused about what is really transpiring including POGO, how do the taxpayers have a chance? It is so easy to change if people understood the root problems and demanded change instead of endlessly reporting official defense program disasters like isolated rocks or icebergs. Be preventative POGO before it happens, obsessing (obsessing is not a negative word handling govt. malfeaseance) on the government systems you already know do not work and you'll mitigate the titanic damages to the taxpayers. Think accountability!

John Sack

Brad. I was not complaining about minor restrictions. I am reminding you that the so called revolving door is closed for 3 years after you leave government service. You artiicle is silent concerniing this relevant fact.
I worked for 41 years for DCAA. I am proud of the fact that I was able to save the taxpayer 100' s of millions of dollars . The fact that I am also free to seek employment after the 3 year waiting period does not make me a compromised civil servant if I elect to work for a defense contractor,

John Sack

Brad::
I recognize the need for a 3 year limitation on employment with a government contractor
The DCAA employee accused of using the revolving door had to wait 3 years before accepting employment with a defense contractor. The so called revolving door is shut for the 3 year period. Your article does not address to this subject.
I spent 41 years with DCAA . My success in saving the taxpayer millions is fully documented. DCAA is replete with dedicated professional auditors who work very hard to monitor and limit excess profits on defense contractors.

Bradley

POGO how about more work on how broken and dysfunctional the current DCAA is? Mike Thibault was harmless, let him draw another pay check. All the guy liked to talk about was his Vietnam days and I bet he embelished on those. DCAA is now pushing people to get jobs done faster, yet not cutting out any of the crazy documentation. DCAA is larded with management but short on the little people who do the actual work. DCAA is out of control.

brad giordani

John, The same applies to members of congress. Heck, three (3) years on K Street would be a cake walk after the hard work and long hours at DoD-IG/DCAA, eh? 2nd Heck, did not realize that the revolving door was/is the only way to make money after retirement from uncle sam.

No one is forced to work for the USG!! And when they do (you as a good example) complain about minor restrictions. Without these restrictions you are complaining about, you would have 24/7 greasing to the already automatic-revolving- door. The only requirement for revolving door membership, ia a long career in key gov positions.

Since that was your only argument, you fell way short. Before you critize POGO, you better do your homework as they have.

John Sack

I am a former member of DCAA. There are a series of rules and regulations that for a 3 year period severly limit the types of emloyment that a former government employee can accept. I guess you would prefer that a federal employee be an indentured servant unable to seek employment from amy government contractor for life. Yet that same employee is paid less then his commercial counterpart and now has his salary frozen. I don't beleive your article is fair and balanced becasue it does not discuss the 3 year confict of interest employment limitations.

Charles M. Smith

I am afraid that I must disagree with the optimistic assessment that, "Unlike some revolving door situations, the hiring of Michael Thibault and Gordon Heddell seems based more on higher principle than on purely political or economic gain. We can only hope that the skills they developed as watchdogs and fighters of fraud, waste, and abuse will continue to serve the public interest."

Both Heddell and Thibault earned their way towards new salaries in the $500k+ per year by ensuring no contractors were held accountable for their actions. Under Heddell the DoD IG generally could "find no evidence" of such contractor wrongdoing. The investigations of electrocutions at LOGCAP sites in Iraq were a case in point. These investigations spread possible blame among many organizations. this result was instrumental for KBR to assert they had no liability and win court cases. These doD IG findings ended any attempt to prosecute for criminal liability in the SSG Ryan Maseth case.

Mr. Thibault was a key member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting which found millions of waste and fraud, but could identify nobody who did anything wrong. They had panel after panel who asserted that more resources were needed and a few new laws and regulations. When a panelist did actually speak the truth, such as the Director of DCAA Ms. April Stephenson, they were ignored. When she was subsequently removed from her position, this held no interest for the panel.

My experience is that the revolving door is much more subtle than "I give you a contract and you hire me." Establishing a reputation for business friendly (lack of) oversight is one way of playing the game. These two players are obvious winners.

Ken Larson

I applaud your article and have posed a related question on Linked In that may interest you. POGO attribution has been provided:

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/government-non-profit/government-policy/GOV_GPO/948017-8495987?browseIdx=0&sik=1326064993823&goback=.amq

brad giordani

You are spot on. If anyone thinks a long career in public service is automatic smarts is mistaken. The fact he went to work for the same folks that are joined at the hips at DoD speaks for itself.

Why not work outside the revolving door, Gordon? Because Gordon has a ton of friends that he can now help maintain the status quo and perhaps these friends could use some contracts before the money is all gone. I have a long history with the Defense Hotline/IG that Gordon cites and the Hotline Director, Leonard (do nothing) Trahan who sold out our troops and the IG's did nothing. This evidence has been on my site 2002 and is no secret at the DoD-IG.

Members of congress and Gordon have a lot in common. They have a ton of experience and keep their hand in uncle sams cookie after retirement. If anyone believes that good ole Gordon is going to work for Booz to help our country (country first) only and the money (second) is a pee brain and pin head.


Jackson

You are shooting blanks, Neil. If you ban the kind of knowledge transfer--and in this case the knowledge is prime savvy on compliance, not contract opportunities--you promote contractors who do not understand the govt and vice versa. Look at how awful the SEC does because it has had hardly any Wall Street understanding. Thibault seems a stand-up righteous guy; the only secrets he has to give his new employer is how to stay out of trouble.

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