Monday, August 26, 2019

Sloppy Contracting or Wasted Money?

An article appearing in the Washington Times last week questioned some of the Pentagon's contracting processes, accusing it of wasting millions.

The Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment (ONA) awarded four fixed-price contracts worth more than $1 million to Stefan Halper, a foreign policy scholar and Senior Fellow at the University of Cambridge, to study relations among the U.S., Russia, China, and India.

Based on a request by Senator Grassley to look into a whistleblower complaint that the research performed under these contracts were shoddy, the DoD's Office of Inspector General (OIG) opened an investigation of the charges.

Under these contracts, Mr. Haler would travel to various countries, interview prominent people and organize round table discussions. The problem that the OIG found was that there was no evidence that Mr. Halper did any of this. That's not to say he didn't but that there was no evidence that he did.

The reports were characterized by some as 'derivative', 'college-level', and based heavily on secondary sources. One of the studies was literally cut and pasted from a World Bank report. One of the reports listed 43 contributors, many of who denied that they contributed to the report, had been interviewed by Mr. Halper, or even knew of him. Neither Mr. Halper nor the ONA could provide evidence that he even traveled to the locations he said he did. For example, the OIG reports states:
None of the 348 footnotes in the deliverables attributed source material to an interview conducted by (Halper). ONA personnel could not provide us with evidence to show that any of these high-ranking officials contributed to Professor Halper's ... study.
The OIG audit revealed significant flaws in ONG's contract management and oversight process. The OIG criticized ONA for not following the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) in awarding and administering Mr. Halper's contracts. ONA, for its part, concurred with the OIG findings and promised to have corrective actions in place by October.

By the way, Professor Halper is the same person that's been in the news lately as the FBI informant hired to spy on the Trump campaign.

The full Washington Post article can be accessed here.

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