WASHINGTON DC (January 22, 2020) – Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-IA) is expanding his probe into the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Net Assessment’s (ONA) contract compliance after reviewing troubling documents related to contracts awarded to Professor Stefan Halper. Those documents call into question ONA’s stewardship of tax-payer dollars as well as its contract management and internal controls.
ONA is the Pentagon’s internal-research organization that awards contracts for academic reports intended to assist the military in producing long-term trends and prospects of military-capabilities compared to other countries to identify future threats. However, documents reveal that reviews of Halper’s research-proposals prompted criticism of the quality and necessity of his work product. Other contracts show that Halper listed a Russian intelligence-official as a consultant for an ONA project. That same Russian official was also listed as a source in the debunked anti-Trump dossier, which was used to spy on Carter Page. Halper was also in contact with Page and another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, raising questions about whether Halper used US tax-payer dollars to seek connections with Trump campaign officials. The interactions also raise questions about what role, if any, Halper had in the Russian election interference investigation, which found no collusion with the Trump campaign.
In a letter today to ONA Director James Baker, Sen Grassley requested additional data on ONA contracts for the past five years, including details on their purposes, costs, and efforts to ensure proper oversight and compliance. Sen Grassley also questioned why ONA issued other contracts unrelated to Halper that appear to have no relation to ONA’s purpose and mission.
In early-2019, Sen Grassley requested that the DoD Inspector General (IG) review allegations of mismanagement by ONA contracts for political, improper, or wasteful activities. Sen Grassley later sought information about ONA contracting processes following a DoD IG audit of the program, which found that ONA could not provide sufficient documentation that Halper conducted all of his work in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. The Pentagon issued a corrective action plan for ONA in august.
Full text of today’s letter to ONA Director Baker enclosed at link.