J&E Associates, Inc. in Silver Spring, MD received a $5.5 million time & materials contract for the New Parent Support Program, to assist Marines and their families as they prepare to integrate a child into the home. The contract includes 3 option years, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $22.1 million.
Work will be performed at Quantico, VA (20%); Camp Lejune, NC (20%); MCAS Cherry Point, NC (20%); Camp Pendleton, CA (20%); Twenty Nine Palms, CA (10%); and Kaneohe Bay, HI (10%), and is expected to be complete by September 2010 if all options are exercised. This contract was competitively procured through Navy Electronic Commerce On-line site, with 3 offers received. The Regional Contracting Office Northeast at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA issued the contract (M000264-06-C-0014).
DID recently ran an article offering various lessons learned and analyses from Israel’s recent Round 1 conflict with Hezbollah. These included dismay at the state of Israel’s reserve forces and corruption within its procurement and maintenance efforts. Now Stella Korin-Lieber reports that elected Israeli representatives and government officials are demanding that any cash injection or increase in the Israeli defense budget (the FY 2007 request is reportedly for an additional 19.2 billion shekels, or $4.38 billion above the regular NIS 45 billion/ $10.26 billion) should be made conditional on the adoption of improved accountability measures.
According to her report, these measures reportedly include items such as:
In a follow-up to the events described in DID’s May 25, 2006 article, the US government has disclosed that personal data on up to 50,000 active Navy and National Guard personnel were among those stolen from a Veterans Affairs employee’s home last month. An Associated Press article says that information including names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of up to 20,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel who were on at least their second active-duty call-up were “potentially included”; the same status applies for up to 30,000 active-duty Navy personnel who completed their first enlistment term prior to 1991. While there have been no reports that the stolen data have been used for identity theft yet, caution and vigilance by potential victims is definitely warranted.
Meanwhile, consequences are beginning to fall. A recent AP report notes that The VA has fired the data analyst who lost the data, VA deputy assistant secretary Michael McLendon has stepped down, and Dennis Duffy (the acting head of the division in which the data analyst worked) has been placed on administrative leave. Meanwhile, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said Wednesday that he had named Attorney and Vietnam War veteran Rick Romley as his new adviser for information security. Romley prosecuted one of the largest public corruption cases in Arizona in the early 1990s.
In a shocking illustration of the truism that more integrated databases make for larger and more lucrative honeypots/ disaster magnets, the data of approximately 26.5 million US veterans was stolen recently. A Veterans’ Affairs employee disregarded security protocols and took a laptop with sensitive data home, then the laptop was taken during a burglary at the employee’s residence. Information stolen included the veterans’ Social Security numbers, birthdates and in some cases a disability rating.
Using this information, sophisticated criminals could obtain credit reports, bank and credit card accounts and place of residence information to complete many or all of the requirements for identity theft. That in turn enables all kinds of fraud schemes that can do irreparable damage to individuals’ credit ratings and finances. Identity theft has become a serious problem in the USA, where there are far fewer limits concerning the collection, trade and custody of individuals’ personal data, and little apparent liability for its misuse.
This particular incident has been compounded by questionable official actions…
Back in January 2006, DID covered a GAO report that pegged the average for active duty enlisted personnel and officer compensation at $112,000 a year, 51% of which takes the form of health care and other benefits. Not only were those benefits not driving motivating retention in proportion to their compensation competitiveness, a series of benefits increases were driving up costs rapidly in the short term. Over the longer term, meanwhile, a single health care benefit extension enacted in 2000 was estimated have a true financial statement liability of $293 billion.
DID readers who had perused “US Military Benefits Costs Spiraling” were unsurprised, therefore, when our coverage of the proposed FY 2007 US defense budget noted a number of new provisions aimed at controlling the rise in health care costs. Now Tom Philpott of “Military Update” covers the resulting debate. Under-secretary of Defense David S. C. Chu noted that military health costs, which have doubled since 2001, could double again by 2015. Nevertheless, raising TRICARE fees and co-payments from their previous static amounts is provoking opposition.
One of the key sources of savings proposed for the new CVN-21 Class aircraft carriers is a trend toward more automation and fewer personnel. Now the GAO helps shed light on the larger phenomenon behind those moves. A recent GAO report that pegged the average for active duty enlisted personnel and officer compensation at $112,000 a year, 51% of which takes the form of health care and other benefits (NAVSEA’s figure was $90,000 FY 2004).
This amounts to about double the average for civilian pay, and also represents a much higher benefits ratio than civilian pay. Ironically, the GAO report also found that the US military’s efforts to educate its personnel about this important recruiting and retention lever did not get good marks, and that many military members were unaware of how competitive their compensation was.
GAO Comptroller David Walker’s key point at a recent GovExec.com breakfast was that the budgeting process needed to reflect the full financial impact of funding decisions. For example, health care costs since are not only spiraling in the present thanks to a benefits expansion in 2000 – they also represent a major future stinger. Specifically…
Canada will be deploying more forces to Afghanistan soon, as part of its ongoing commitments to the NATO ISAF force. In February 2006, the Canadian Forces will increase its presence by deploying approximately 2,000 personnel to the volatile and dangerous region of Kandahar, which was once the seat of the Taliban/ al-Qaeda government. Before deploying, its Department of National Defence (DND) is purchasing C$ 234 million (USD $200 million) worth of equipment, including IED-resistant patrol vehicles, ATVs, modern artillery & GPS-guided munitions, UAVs, support equipment, and technologically advanced surveillance, security and communications systems.
Yet the most significant item may be the one that isn’t on this list, and the ordering/ delivery times raise questions as well. The DND orders for Operation ARCHER include:
The US Congress passed the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994, ensuring that National Guard and Reserve members’ civilian careers were protected when they are called for military duty. Now, an Oct 20, 2005 Government Accountability Office report notes that less than 20% of the Army Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve have entered their employer information in the DOD database, and that information sharing between federal agencies responsible for notification and enforcement is almost nonexistent.
This is not an uncommon situation in many military, business, and government organizations. As a result, however: “GAO analysis of 52 complaints that had been closed and reopened two or more times found that recorded processing times averaged 103 days but the actual elapsed times that service members waited to have their complaints fully addressed averaged 619 days…” Read the rest of the Federal Computer Week article, or for a special DID feature read the full GAO report directly.
As part of the US military’s organizational transformation, the Bush administration has pushed to create more flexibility within the Department of Defense’s personnel system with a streamlined appeals processes, more market-based compensation, merit pay, et. al. DID has covered the fight being waged by DoD employee unions against these proposals, and the legal difficulties encountered by similar proposed changes at the amalgamated Department of Homeland Security. GovExec.com has the latest update in that saga, which is widely seen as having some implications for DoD-related reforms as well.
“To be sure, Congress made a judgment that it wanted DHS to have flexibility,” said Justice Rosemary Collyer, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “But not at the expense of ensuring that employees could engage in collective bargaining.” Collyer’s ruling comes in response to a lawsuit brought by the National Treasury Employees Union, the American Federation of Government Employees and three other labor unions. The lawsuit addressed only the labor relations portion of DHS’ personnel reforms, and not any classification or compensation issues, such as pay-for-performance. Read the details, and find links to related articles, at GovExec.com
Under a law Congress passed in October 2004, the Defense Department had until Feb. 25, 2005 to develop regulations reimbursing US soldiers for mission-related equipment, which is limited to $1,100 per item. In response, soldiers and their families have reported buying everything from higher-quality protective gear to armor for their Humvees, medical supplies and even global positioning devices – but the reimbursements hadn’t been forthcoming.
It’s the classic organizational conundrum of “rogue buying” that meets immediate needs, vs. the benefits of standardization, quality testing for equipment that must not fail, and interoperablity. Pentagon officials called the Congressional directive “an unmanageable precedent that will saddle the DOD with an open-ended financial burden” – but fortunately, Sen. Christopher Dodd [D-CT] pushed, and a year later, the DoD has just released its formal reimbusement policy. That policy gives eligible Soldiers until October 3, 2006 to apply for reimbursement, and clearly specifies what is and isn’t covered.