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Senate approves Boxer-Grassley amendment to limit contractor salary reimbursement PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 December 2011 10:01

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley said today that the Senate has accepted an amendment he offered with Senator Barbara Boxer of California to limit taxpayer reimbursement for defense contractor salaries. The legislation will be included in a larger bill to authorize $662 billion in Pentagon spending for the next fiscal year.

Grassley said their reform amendment is aimed at runaway federal spending on contractor salary reimbursements.  Cost-reimbursement type contracts are used extensively by the Department of Defense.

“We can’t afford to waste increasingly limited defense dollars,” Grassley said.

Between 1998 and 2010, the benchmark for reimbursing executive salaries – separate from what these executives are paid by their private-sector employers – grew 53 percent faster than the rate of inflation.

Here is Grassley’s statement to the Senate regarding the Boxer-Grassley amendment.

Grassley Statement

The Congressional Record

Thursday, December 1, 201

At a time when the national security budget is under immense pressure, it is vitally important that we spend our defense dollars more wisely.  The Boxer-Grassley amendment will contain runaway spending in contractor salary reimbursements.  Notice that I said “salary reimbursements” not salaries.  Someone not familiar with government contracting might ask why it’s any of our business what government contractors get paid, and I would agree if we’re talking about what their company pays them out of its own pocket.

When most people hire a contractor to renovate their bathroom or re-shingle their roof, they find the one that does the best work for the least cost.  Having done that, you’re not likely to ask or care what their cut is or what they pay their crew.  To the extent that government contracts work the same way, the same principle applies.  Unfortunately, not all government contracts do work that way.

A large proportion of government contracts actually reimburse the contractor directly for the costs they incur, including for the salaries of their employees.  These types of contracts are risky because contractors lose the incentive to control costs.  They are only supposed to be used when a fixed price contract is not possible, for instance if the scope or duration of the work is not possible to determine at the outset.

Nevertheless, cost-reimbursement type contracts are used extensively by federal departments and agencies.  The Defense Department alone accounted for over $100 billion in cost reimbursement type contracts in fiscal year 2010.  President Obama has criticized the widespread use of these types of contracts and has set a goal of slowing the growth and ultimately reducing their use.  He’s made a little progress.  However, we’re talking about a small dent in a large bucket.  It’s clear that cost type contracts are going to account for a major proportion of the dollars spent on federal contracting for the foreseeable future.  As a result, we must take steps to limit unreasonable expenditures under these types of contracts.

Senator Boxer and I worked together to try to head off this problem back in 1997.  At that time, we proposed capping salary reimbursements at the salary level of the President of the United States.  However, a compromise was ultimately enacted that capped how much the top 5 highest earning contractor executives could charge the federal government for their salaries.  The cap was set at the median salary of the top 5 executives at companies with annual sales over $50 million, which must be recalculated annually.  Since that time, the cap has more than doubled from $340,650 to $693,951.  That’s 53 percent faster than the rate of inflation.

The House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Bill expands the current cap to all contractor employees, not merely the top 5 executives, closing a loophole that was being exploited.  The version of the National Defense Authorization Bill before the Senate extends the cap only to the top 10-15 executives.  However, Senator Boxer and I think it’s time to reconsider a fixed cap at the level of the President’s salary, which I should add was doubled by Congress to $400,000 since our previous proposal.  That’s more than generous.  Surely the taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to pay the salary of a contractor more than the President makes, which is twice what any cabinet secretary makes.  Keep in mind that this cap just limits how much Uncle Sam can be billed for, which is on top of whatever the company chooses to pay its employees out of its own pocket.

Not only would our straightforward cap save man-hours in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which has to gather the data every year to determine the current convoluted cap, but it would save millions of dollars that need not be spent.  Again, we cannot afford to go on wasting our increasingly limited defense dollars.  We have to be more aggressive in weeding out waste in defense spending and this is one unnecessary expenditure that we can easily eliminate in favor of higher priorities.  I urge my colleagues to join us in this commonsense cost cutting measure.

 
Facts are STUBBORN Things...Connecting the Dots between Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 December 2011 09:58
Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Hearing with Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Nov. 1, 2011

Connection Between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious

 

Assistant Attorney General Breuer to Senator Grassley: “I regret that in April of 2010 that I did not draw the connection between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious.”

FACT

In the spring of 2010, Criminal Division staff considered Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious related components of the same case.

On February 22, 2010, Gang Unit prosecutors Laura Gwinn and Joe Cooley, assigned respectively to Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious, emailed back and forth with each other about the connection between the two cases when some of the guns being trafficked in Fast and Furious were tracked to a stash house of one of the targets in Wide Receiver.

Because of those overlapping targets, Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious were considered associated cases.  When the ATF Phoenix Field Division assembled a PowerPoint presentation on Fast and Furious in March 2010, one of the slides listing “Associated Cases” with Fast and Furious listed Operation Wide Receiver.  This same PowerPoint was presented at ATF headquarters on March 5, 2010.  According to a March 11, 2010, memo from Gang Unit Chief Kevin Carwile, Gang Unit member Joe Cooley attended that briefing.

Concerns about those overlapping targets also led to delay in unsealing the indictments in Wide Receiver, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona had concerns that when the Wide Receiver indictments were unsealed it would tip off targets in Fast and Furious.  As the department wrote in its October 31, 2011, letter to Senator Leahy:

The documents produced today reflect that the Gang Unit prosecutor was ready to indict the Wide Receiver cases and unseal them beginning in the spring of 2010, but that the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona handling Fast and Furious believed that if the Wide Receiver indictments became public at that time they would negatively impact his case.  The Assistant U.S. Attorney therefore requested that the indictments and/or the unsealing of the indictments in Wide Receiver be delayed.  As a result of that request, Wide Receiver 1 was indicted under seal in May 2010, Wide Receiver 2 was indicted under seal in October 2010, and both cases were unsealed in November 2010.

In a July 1, 2010, memo to DAAG Weinstein and others, Gang Unit Chief Kevin Carwile described Fast and Furious as “a gun trafficking case with apparent ties to the Tucson case already indicted by [the Gang Unit],” which was a reference to Wide Receiver.

Finally, an October 18, 2010, memo under Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s name that is addressed to the Attorney General and Acting Deputy Attorney General reads: “On October 27, the Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS) plans to indict eight individuals under seal relating to the trafficking of hundreds of firearms into Mexico.  The sealing will likely last until another investigation, Phoenix-based ‘Operation Fast and Furious,’ is ready for takedown.”

Given all this evidence that the cases were seen as related by Criminal Division staff, Breuer’s claim that he failed to “draw the connection” between the cases is not credible.  Since Breuer knew of gunwalking in Wide Receiver, if he knew that the cases were related then it’s difficult to understand why he would not have prevented gunwalking in Fast and Furious.

Documents supporting the FACTS.

 
Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf, Boutwell nab drugs, smugglers on high seas PDF Print E-mail
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Written by U.S. Coast Guard   
Monday, 12 December 2011 09:53

WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard announced Thursday the interdiction of more than 2,470 pounds of cocaine, and the detention of 12 suspects, during three separate missions in the Eastern Pacific the week of Nov. 21.

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, a national security cutter, and the Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, a Secretary Class high endurance cutter, were on counter-drug patrols in  the Eastern Pacific Ocean.  Boutwell’s crew intercepted a drug-laden fishing vessel more than 200 miles west of Ecuador while Bertholf’s crew recovered cocaine jettisoned from a speed boat they were pursuing near the coast of Panama.

Of the 771 metric tons of cocaine known to be bound for the U.S. in 2011, more than 85 percent was transported on the high seas.  In 2010 the U.S. Coast Guard kept 73.9 metric tons of cocaine, interdicted in the maritime transit zone between South America and Central and North America, from reaching our shores, nearly double the amount seized by one million federal, state, local and tribal officials located on our land borders and in communities across the U.S.

“The pervasive threat of maritime drug smuggling that we witnessed in fiscal year 2011 is a good example of why we need modern capabilities like the national security cutter to protect our nation, ”  said Coast Guard commandant Adm. Bob Papp.  “Dollar for dollar, the best investment of taxpayer money for ensuring U.S. security, defending our borders from threats, enforcing sovereignty, and guarding marine resources is in capabilities that enable Coast Guard persistent presence at sea where we can meet threats before they reach our shores.  With counterdrug operations, this strategy has enabled us to seize bulk quantities of narcotics at sea before they are offloaded ashore, separated between dealers, and then broken down for sale on our streets and in our neighborhoods.”

The Coast Guard executed 120 drug interdiction cases in fiscal year 2011, keeping 75.6 metric tons of cocaine and 17.3 metric tons of marijuana from reaching U.S. shores.  More than 23 metric tons of cocaine have been seized since Aug. 29.  The Coast Guard also seized 40 vessels and detained 191 suspects in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30.

“The nation relies on the Coast Guard to protect against seaborne threats,” Papp said.  “Our cutters are stationed in waters vital to U.S. interests and provide the law enforcement and military capability to respond to, interdict and deal with these threats.”

The primary method of maritime drug smuggling remains the “go-fast” boat, which accounted for 58 percent of interdiction cases.  Self-propelled, semi-submersible vessels, commonly referred to as drug subs, accounted for 19 percent, while fishing vessels accounted for four percent of maritime drug smuggling activity.

Boutwell’s interdiction began Nov. 23 when the cutter approached the Ecuadorian-flagged fishing vessel El Soberano, approximately 230 miles west of Ecuador.  The Coast Guard crew observed suspicious packages on board, saw there was no fishing gear on the deck and noted the El Soberano was towing a smaller launch.  The Boutwell’s boarding team conducted a search of the fishing vessel, discovering 40 bales of cocaine weighing between 50 to 56 pounds each.  The boarding team detained all nine individuals aboard the two vessels and brought them aboard Boutwell.

"I couldn't be prouder of my crew for their vigilance and decisive actions during this interdiction," said Capt. Matthew J. Gimple, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell.  "For more than 42 years, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell has safeguarded America’s maritime interests – at home and around the world – saving those in peril, defending our maritime border, and protecting the maritime transportation system, natural resources and the marine environment.  We’ve had three interdictions this month, all of which were 200 miles or more offshore;  the ability to operate multiple, over-the-horizon boats and aircraft from our cutter for sustained periods is key to success.”

Bertholf’s action began five nautical miles west of Punta Caracoles, Panama, while the cutter was on patrol in Panamanian waters under the authority of an embarked Panamanian shiprider.  Bertholf was alerted by a maritime patrol airplane that a “go-fast” drug smuggling speedboat was in the area.  The crew of the Bertholf located the “go-fast” using the ship’s Forward Looking Infrared sensor and radar.  The cutter’s over-the-horizon boat was launched and its crew intercepted the suspect boat.  The “go-fast” fled, jettisoning about nine bales, one of which was recovered by the crew of the pursuing Bertholf over-the horizon boat.  The suspect boat eluded law enforcement using the cover of coves and islands in the area of the chase.  The pursuit ended as the chase neared the territorial seas of Colombia.  The marine patrol airplane identified a debris field from which seven bales and one kilo of cocaine were subsequently recovered.

Two nights prior, the crew of the Bertholf intercepted another “go-fast,” netting two bales of cocaine and three suspects who were turned over to SENAN, the Panamanian Maritime service.

"My crew's response was exceptional during the prosecution of this case, and I'm proud to report we foiled these drug smugglers and kept the narcotics from reaching their ultimate destination - the United States," said Capt. Thomas E. Crabbs, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf.  “The Bertholf is one of the Coast Guard's newest cutters, unique to the United States and uniquely equipped to respond to all threats; it served the nation well during this case.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf is on a 70-day patrol conducting counter-narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific.  Cutters like the Bertholf routinely conduct operations from South America to the Bering Sea where their unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather provides the mission flexibility necessary to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations at great distances from shore keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland.

The Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell is on a 60-day deployment for counter-drug operations in the Eastern Pacific.  So far in this patrol they have been involved in three law enforcement cases resulting in the seizure or jettison of 3,800 pounds of cocaine worth $40 million.  The Boutwell and the Coast Guard's current fleet of cutters is from 30 to 45 years old, constituting one of the oldest fleets in the world while being one of the busiest.

The Boutwell and the 11 other original Secretary-class, high endurance cutters, are being replaced by eight Legend-class, national security cutters like the cutter Bertholf. The NCSs are faster, better equipped, more durable, safer and more efficient than their predecessor, and will allow the Coast Guard to continue and build on the proud history of service provided by their predecessor class, delivering a unique blend of military capability, law enforcement authority and lifesaving expertise wherever needed to protect American interests, today and for decades to come.

 
LONG GROVE MAN UNAWARE OF $10,000 WIN PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Amy Garringer   
Friday, 09 December 2011 15:42

Allen Phelps Wins $10,000 Prize in Nov. 19 Powerball® Drawing

DES MOINES, Iowa – A Long Grove man was unaware he’d won a $10,000 prize in the Nov. 19 Powerball® drawing until he had his ticket validated.

Allen Phelps, 48, just happened to have his ticket validated at a local retailer and was shocked to learn what he’d won.

“[The clerk] said, ‘Do you know what you won?’ And I said, ‘No.’” Phelps said. “And she said, ‘Ten grand!’”

Phelps said he was celebrating his wife, Nancy’s, birthday the night of the drawing and wasn’t near a television to watch the Powerball drawing, so he was totally unaware of how much he’d won.

“The clerk was so excited. She asked to take a picture of the ticket!” Phelps said.

Phelps said Nancy didn’t believe the news and he had to show her the ticket to prove it.

“I said, ‘I’ll be home in ten minutes to prove it!’” Phelps said with a laugh.

Phelps purchased his winning ticket at DeWitt Travel Mart, 630 S. Sixth Ave. in DeWitt. He won the $10,000 prize using his own numbers.

“I always use my own numbers,” Phelps said. “Some are special to me, like my dad’s birthday and date of death.”

Phelps claimed his prize Nov. 22 at the Iowa Lottery’s regional office in Cedar Rapids. He said he plans to use some of his winnings to purchase a newer tractor for his property.

The winning numbers in the $59.9 million Powerball jackpot drawing on Nov. 19 were: 9-16-17-28-30 and Powerball 11. The Power Play® multiplier was 3. Phelps won a $10,000 prize by matching four of the first five numbers and the Powerball. Had he added the Power Play to his ticket, Phelps would have multiplied his $10,000 win by three to win a $30,000 prize.

There was one jackpot winner in the Nov. 19 drawing from Pennsylvania.

Players can increase their prizes with the Power Play (except the jackpot) up to five times. The cost is $1 per play. The Power Play number, 2 through 5, is chosen at the beginning of the drawing indicating the amount prizes (except the jackpot) will be multiplied if that number is drawn.

For players who choose the Power Play and match five white balls (regularly a $200,000 prize), the multiplier will always be 5, so those players would win an instant $1 million.

Winning numbers may be checked at the lottery website at www.ialottery.com or through the winning numbers' hot line at (515) 323-4633. Winning numbers may also be checked with lottery retail outlets or by calling the lottery at (515) 725-7900 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Players may visit the Iowa Lottery at 2323 Grand Ave. in Des Moines or go to one of the lottery’s regional offices in Council Bluffs, Storm Lake, Mason City or Cedar Rapids to claim prizes.

Since the lottery’s start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.7 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.3 billion for the state programs that benefit all Iowans.

Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.

###

 
Facts are STUBBORN Things, the Connection between Fast and Furious and Agent Terry's Death PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 09 December 2011 15:18

Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Nov. 8, 2011

Connection between Fast and Furious and Agent Terry’s Death

Attorney General Holder to Senator Cornyn: “It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious led directly to the death of Agent Terry.”

FACT

According to the FBI, two weapons were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  The bullet removed from Agent Terry matched the caliber of those two weapons, not the caliber of the weapons in possession of the Border Patrol agents, so it appears he did not die from friendly fire.  Congressional investigators have asked the FBI to explain its theory of the case, since if there was no third gun at the scene and the bullet didn’t come from the Border Patrol, there must still be an unknown third gun which law enforcement has not yet recovered.  It is possible that that third gun is not related to Fast and Furious.  However, since two guns walked in Fast and Furious were present, it is possible that a third may have been as well.  The two found at the scene were both part of a lot of three weapons purchased by known straw buyer Jaime Avila on the same day in January 2010.

Prior to the purchase of the weapons found at the Terry murder scene, Avila had already been identified by the ATF as a likely straw purchaser at least two-and-a-half months earlier.  In November 2009 Uriel Patino, the largest purchasing target in Operation Fast and Furious, brought Avila into a cooperating gun dealer to buy five weapons.  ATF received real-time notice from the gun dealer and knew the purchases were significant enough that agents rushed to the store to follow them.  However, they arrived too late.  Yet rather than going to Avila’s address to question him, ATF opted to sit back.  Avila continued to purchase through December 2009 and into January 2010.

When the weapons found at the Terry murder scene were bought by Avila on January 16, 2010, the cooperating gun dealer gave the ATF same-day notice via fax.  One business day later, the ATF entered the purchases in their Suspect Gun Database.  Nevertheless, the ATF still failed to question Avila the day of the purchase, the day the purchase was entered into the Suspect Gun Database—or at all, until Avila was arrested 11 months later in direct response to Agent Terry’s death.  The falsification of forms charge for which Avila was arrested on December 15 could have been made months earlier.

Regardless, by using the word ‘directly,’ Holder seems to be echoing the statement of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer: “The tragic truth is that if those criminals who killed Agent Terry had not gotten the guns from this one source, they would have gotten the gun from another source.”  That is hardly an excuse for federal law enforcement to watch criminals collect more than a thousand firearms without acting to stop them.

Documents supporting the FACTS.

 
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