NASA inspector general dismisses contractor complaint

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NASA’s inspector general has dismissed complaints from Honeywell, which claimed that the government violated federal procurement laws when it awarded a $1.26 billion contract in 2008 to a competitor, ITT Corporation.

Honeywell claimed former NASA executive Robert Spearing violated revolving door policies by assisting ITT, as a consultant, with its space communications proposal. Honeywell contended ITT had access to classified Honeywell data while both companies were working as contractors for NASA.

For three decades, Honeywell had a contract with NASA for the predecessor to the space craft communications network. Both ITT and Honeywell submitted bids for the new contract. ITT was awarded the contract in October of 2008.

A report by the inspector general found no violations of federal laws and regulations prohibiting “revolving door” policies for government workers. ITT and Spearing both insisted that he offered only advice on the bidding process, not on confidential NASA data or proprietary Honeywell data.

The inspector general agreed, and found that the former NASA employee did not have access to the classified Honeywell data, as Honeywell had claimed.

The inspector general investigation found “insufficient evidence to sustain Honeywell’s allegations, or that ITT personnel engaged in criminal misconduct during the procurement or used Honeywell’s proprietary information.” The Government Accountability Office previously dismissed Honeywell’s claim that ITT suffered from organizational conflict of interest. The Majority staff on the House Committee on Science and Technology discussed aspects of the Honeywell claim, but did not come to a conclusion.

FAST FACT: Since 2008, NASA has extended its contract with Honeywell at the cost of $269 million.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.

NATIONAL SECURITY

  • The government is unable to figure out the number of government employees and contractors who hold security clearances for access to classified information. John Fitzpatrick, director of special security for the Director of National Intelligence, told a House Intelligence subcommittee that he could not place a number on government security clearances. The GAO estimated back in 2009 that there were about 2.5 million people with clearances. (Secrecy News )

ENVIRONMENT

  • The Transportation Department inspector general announced a new audit of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to determine how effectively it enforces federal regulations requiring oil pipeline companies to monitor equipment for corrosion, cracks and other hazards, following a large spill in Michigan last summer. (OIG)

HEALTH

  • Eighteen percent of all Medicaid personal care services, totaling $724 million, were considered inappropriate because attendants providing services did not have documented qualifications. Personal care aides assist the disabled and elderly in their homes. States are required to establish qualifications for these attendants, like background checks and training requirements. About 6.5 million claims were paid to attendants without appropriate qualifications between 2006 and 2007. (OIG)

MISC.

  • American Indians experience crime rates 2.5 times higher than the general population of the United States. The federal government is responsible for prosecuting crimes in sovereign Indian territory, but members of Congress have raised concerns over reports that federal prosecutors declined to prosecute a significant percentage of the Indian criminal investigations referred to their offices. (GAO)

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