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WP-DHS behind the scenes

Some interesting reading... Yesterday, I mentioned the WP stories focusing on problems at the Homeland Security Department, including US-VISIT. The reporting team, Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow Jr., did a online chat yesterday and there is some interesting reading. A few tidbits:

Here is an item from a procurement analyst...
Washington, D.C.: Gentlemen - I will be hard at work (in my position as a procurement analyst with a large executive agency) at the time of your discussion and will not be able to participate in your discussion. Nevertheless, I wanted to mention that based on my own 30-year experience in the federal procurement sector there's not much new in your excellent report. Government procurement has grown increasing lax over the years as responsibility -- but not always accountability -- has shifted to our private sector "partners." In some cases this isn't a problem. But in many cases it is a problem -- and in the case of fighting terrorism the stakes are far, far too high for the kinds of "experiments" James Williams seems to think are perfectly acceptable, notwithstanding his own "worries."


And this post:
Grand Rapids, Mich.: Thanks for writing this piece. I worked for Siemens, who contracted the installation of the bomb-detection machines. Your article matched my experience and confirmed my suspicions about certain prime contractors and the TSA: they were asleep at the wheel. There were multiple layers of contractors with precious little oversight, financial or contractual. This whole project was a tremendous waste of taxpayer money, and we are no more secure than we were before.


And finally:
Silver Spring, Md.: Would you say there has been widespread criminal or civil fraud by contractors on these Homeland Security contracts or have the losses to the government resulted from just mismanagement by the agency?

Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow Jr.: A federal task force has been formed out of the US Attorney's Office in Alexandria, and it will be looking at such questions.


Some of the questions are more interesting then the answers, but if you have a moment...

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on May 24, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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