Archive for the ‘Federal contractors’ Category

Celebrate Inaugural Security!

January 25, 2009

Celebrate Inaugural Security!

This year’s National Bollard Festival® will salute the brave men, women, and sniffer dogs who protected two million people during the Presidential Inaugural festivities, say producers of the Washington, DC event.

Crowds will gather on the chilly National Mall and give a standing ovation to members of the U.S. Capitol Police, Secret Service, Federal Protective Service, National Park Police, FBI, DC Metropolitan Police Department, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and dozens of security corporations with federal contracts. The exact date and time of the event is being withheld for security reasons.

The Purple Ticket Mass Choir will give an a cappella doo-wop concert in a tunnel under the Capitol grounds. “It’s standing room only,” said a U.S. Capitol Police officer, “but there’s a great echo.” The rest of the program is available on a need-to-know basis.


Housing Secretary Goes Home

March 31, 2008

Housing Secretary Goes Home

US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson resigned to spend more quality time with his lawyers. He will leave office April 18th.

A Federal Grand Jury and the FBI have been investigating questionable HUD contracting practices for two years, and the HUD Inspector General also reported irregularities. Several lucrative HUD contracts were awarded to corporations which hired the secretary’s wife, Marcia (pictured with Mr. Jackson, above) as a consultant. There have been allegations of cronyism and rejection of contracts bidders solely on partisan political grounds.

Mrs. Jackson was appointed to the Commission on Presidential Scholars by Mrs. Laura Bush.

The president accepted Mr. Jackson’s resignation “with regret.”

Housing Secretary Goes Home

Top photo:
Bottom image: Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license. Credit: Mike Licht,

Federal Water Sports Update

February 9, 2008

Federal Water Sports Update

Vice President Dick Cheney bragged to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday morning that the U.S. has been “waterboarding” detainees — submitting them to a drowning torture outlawed by the world and our own laws — and this has prevented more 9/11s.  For the record, I note that it has been equally effective in preventing asteroids from colliding with earth, Godzilla from stomping LA, and invasions from Mars.


Cost-Cutting at NASA – The Huckabee Way

January 2, 2008

NASA Cost-Cutting -- the Huckabee Way

The New York Times ran a New Year’s Eve profile of NASA Director Dr. S. Allen Stern. This is hardly surprising, of course, to anyone who knows that news outlets save science features for holidays, when no one reads the paper anyway.

In any case, the hallmark of Dr. Stern’s eight-month-old tenure at NASA is denial (if not rollback) of cost over-runs. Dr. Stern thinks the “that was then, this is now” cost over-run rationale is not acceptable from scientists and engineers, who should be able to add these factors into original budgets and timetables. To some this would indicate Dr. Stern’s shocking lack of experience in the political sphere.


Embedded Anthropologists

November 30, 2007

Embedded Anthropologists 

I had some fun describing the American Anthropological Association (AAA) meetings here, but the meetings include some serious and controversial policy matters of interest to DC wonks, chief among them the issue of anthropologists working with the military in the field and in interrogation and other intelligence functions.


Contractor or Mercenary?

November 10, 2007

Contractor or Mercenary?

A Swiss citizen who worked for the Blackwater Security company in Iraq is under review by a Swiss military court, charged with being a mercenary.

Switzerland, known for its mercenaries since the Middle Ages, now forbids citizens from working in a military capacity for other countries.


The Road to Blackwater, Paved with Contracts

October 2, 2007

These guns are contractors, like most Federal employees

If Federal buildings are not thoughtfully planned, well executed, well-maintained, if century-old Federal buildings are not in good repair, the General Services Administration is accountable. GSA knows the rules, knows that if rules are broken more than jobs will be in jeopardy, for those rules are U.S. laws and regulations. 

But most Federal agencies today are in private, rented space, some of it built-to-order under “Public-Private-Partnerships” where government avoids a large one-time construction expense by renting a new building for a decade or two at a price that could have purchased the building several times over. 

The developer has no incentive to maintain the building, only responds when things go badly wrong, and the government tenant has little recourse since lines of authority are unclear. When the lease expires the developer may give the clapped-out building to the Feds who are stuck demolishing it, disposing of the rubble, and figuring out what to do with the lot, which they probably own anyway.  

This is how credit furniture companies get rich and poor people stay poor, right? Brace yourself: it gets worse. Most employees in that Federally-rented building are rentals, too.