Army Corps of Engineers paid $2.2M for half-finished building, audit shows

The Army Corps of Engineers paid more than $2 million for a half-built facility in Afghanistan that it has plans to complete, according to an Aug. 25 Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report.

usaceIn 2012, a Kandahar Airfield Infrastructure Planning Board official proposed construction of a command and control facility at Camp Brown to support missions in southern and western Afghanistan.

The USACE awarded the contract for the facility in June 2012, and the facility was supposed to be completed by July 2013, SIGAR says in the report.

From November 2012 to August 2013, USACE sent more than a dozen letters to the contractor pointing out issues with the work site, including safety hazards, poor quality and lack of timely design submittals as well as construction schedule slippage, the report says.

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How botched $600 million worth of contracts

The public employees responsible for overseeing $600 million in contracts to build were inadequately trained, kept sloppy records, and failed to identify delays and problems that contributed to millions in cost overruns.

That’s according to a new government audit, published today. It reveals widespread failures by the federal agency charged with managing the private contractors who built The audit is the first to document, in detail, how shoddy oversight by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which manages federal health programs including Obamacare, contributed to the website’s early struggles. - $799 Million

To develop, CMS hired and managed private companies to create vast, interlocking software systems that would allow consumers to shop for insurance policies. According to the report, issued by the agency’s inspector general, lapses in oversight of those companies started early on—well before the website’s limping debut, on Oct. 1, 2013. The site faltered for months, frustrating consumers until a scramble to repair it ultimately allowed millions to enroll in health plans.

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Lockheed pays $4.8M to settle illegal lobbying claim

Sandia Corp. and parent company Lockheed Martin, which operate the federally-funded Sandia National Laboratories, agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle claims that the company used taxpayer money to lobby congress to extend its contract to manage the research facility in violation of federal law.

Sandia National LaboratoriesThe Department of Justice opened an investigation earlier this year after an inspector general report showed the company used federal funds to stand up an in-house lobbying team to develop a strategy to extend the management contract for the facility at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after it was set to expire in 2012.

Documents obtained by the IG revealed a strategy to influence congressmen and federal officials — including then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu. While these lobbying efforts were not explicitly illegal, laws and regulations prohibit the use of federal funds for such purposes.

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Postal Service purchase card program needs better oversight, new audit finds

A new U.S. Postal Service audit found inadequate oversight in regards to the use of expense purchase cards despite policies and procedures in place. 

USPS logoThe USPS inspector general (IG) said in an Aug. 7, 2015 report that, of the 209 transactions – worth $72,333 – it reviewed, 133 were missing the required documentation. And, of those missing, 51 were made without proper approval.

Additionally, cardholders for 42 percent of the transactions and approving officials for 41 percent either did not take the required expense purchase card training or could not provide proof of completion, the IG said.

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Energy’s OIG responds to hotline complaint re: Bonneville Power’s procurement system

The Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has substantiated allegations regarding the acquisition of the hiring system acquired by the Bonneville Power Administration as well as general concerns about Bonneville’s procurement office’s operations.

DOE logoThe Department of Energy’s Bonneville Power Administration, which markets wholesale power produced primarily from Federal hydroelectric projects in the Pacific Northwest, operates and maintains about three-fourths of the high voltage transmission in the area.  Bonneville has about 3,000 federal employees, which represents approximately 20 percent of the Department’s total federal workforce.  In support of its various mission activities and human resources needs, Bonneville makes a number of procurements each year.  By statute, Bonneville is exempt from the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and is permitted to acquire goods and services using its own requirements published as the Bonneville Purchasing Instructions.  In an effort to streamline its recruiting and hiring processes, Bonneville acquired the automated Talent Acquisition System (hiring system) in July 2012.

The OIG received a hotline complaint alleging fraud, waste, and abuse related to the acquisition of information technology (IT) systems.  The complaint included specific concerns regarding the acquisition of the hiring system, as well as general concerns about the procurement organization’s operations.  The allegations made in the complaint were, in part, substantiated in an August 3, 2015 report issued by the OIG.  Most prominently, regarding the acquisition of the hiring system, the OIG found that Bonneville spent about $5.2 million for a system that did not meet its needs.  The OIG identified significant weaknesses with the system planning, acquisition, and contract administration.

The issues identified were due, in large part according to the OIG, to the accelerated planning, development, and deployment approach used by Bonneville for this particular project.  Other contributing factors included a lack of adequate due diligence and accountability on the part of key personnel responsible for acquisition and monitoring of the hiring system and insufficient involvement of Bonneville’s IT Project Management Office.  The OIG also noted that Bonneville failed to apply lessons learned from a previous IT system failure, leading to the repeat of past mistakes.

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