- By Dan Verton
- Aug 15, 1999
WHISTLEBLOWERS AND MORTICIANS. In a letter to Defense Secretary William Cohen, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) recently accused some department apparatchiks of injecting partisan politics into the investigation of Peter Leitner—the senior DOD trade adviser whose computer was ransacked as he testified before Burton's Committee on Government Reform [FCW, July 19]. "I am concerned that Defense Department personnel are acting in a way that unfortunately raises the specter of partisan politics," Burton wrote.
In fact, Burton's investigation into the background of Harold Kwalwasser, deputy general counsel for DOD and one of the lead investigators looking into the Leitner incident, revealed that Kwalwasser's nickname is "The Mortician," a moniker acquired through his prowess at "opposition research," according to Burton. "How do you think this appears to Dr. Leitner and to other staff who voiced concerns that there might be improper conduct involving the request to transfer all of Dr. Leitner's files to someone else's computer?" Burton asked.
BODIES ARE PILING UP. What Burton may have overlooked is that the department may need a mortician to attend to the growing number of Standard Procurement System detractors.
Reports indicate that Doug McDaniel, the contracting officer at the Crane, Ind., division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, has been "reprimanded" for signing his June 14 letter to the FCW editor ("SPS: Not as bad—worse") with "By direction of the commander."
Reports coming in over my sensitive compartmented information delivery channel indicate that "nobody on the inside dares raise a word against SPS." With another $100 million being requested by the SPS program office for additional SPS development work, the only advice I can give to the frightened ones who think they are wandering the road to SPS nirvana alone is: Be careful not to trip over the bodies.
Meanwhile, my SPS listening post perched atop a hill overlooking the Defense Logistics Agency's new multimillion-dollar facility near Fort Belvoir, Va., has picked up signals that Elliot Branch, the Navy's executive director of acquisition and business management, and the senior SPS guru, has jumped ship. While the author of the now infamous "Branch Memo" has not been seen or heard from for a while, the Infiltrator's command and control center is picking up a strong beacon emanating from the Washington, D.C., mayor's office.
SON OF SPS. Just when you think there are no more problematic IT programs to sink your teeth into, another budding fiasco enters the limelight. The word coming in from my agents in the field is that I should take the time to "expose the Defense Working Capitol Financial System." The problem: It's not working, sources say. According to reports, "at least $35 million and three or four GS-14 careers have been sunk into the program already," with no light at the end of the tunnel.
On the bright side, my sources tell me that DOD is conducting a study to determine how large the gap is between what the system does and what it is supposed to do. I feel like my keyboard has been down this road before.
NOW HIRING. Restaurant owners needed with extensive experience managing an 8(a) government IT firm. This is the ad sources say caught the eye of George Fuster, the former president of government computer vendor International Data Products Corp.
Fuster reportedly took his $23 million in cash and stock options from the sale of IDP and has opened a restaurant in the Rio Shopping Center in Montgomery County, Md. Inside sources say that Fuster still promises to ship all orders the same day they are received. In fact, I understand he is offering all government customers the equivalent of an enterprise license agreement—one-price, all-you-can-eat buffet lunches.