Washington- June has brought the steamy humidity to the soggy bottomlands by the Potomac, embracing the green hills with a warm moist embrace . . . in former days, that would have caused the Congress to adjourn and the Members and families to decamp to the beach for the summer . . . central air conditioning has made year-round governing possible, and now June is the time for the Authorization Committees to make their mark-ups of the President's Budget and prepare to send them to the floors of the House and Senate . . . Social Security Reform appears dead in the water for now, not withstanding the efforts of Mr. Bush, and the stalemate in Iraq is becoming divisive, even in the President's own party . . . the House has been engaged in the sequential referral of the Armed Services and Intelligence Authorizations and turf squabbles with the new Director of National Intelligence . . . the Senate has been tied in knots over the Rule on Filibusters and Judicial nominees . . . which appears to have been resolved, except for Josh Bolton's nomination, at least until it is time to consider a new Associate Justice of the Supreme Court . . . Here is a sample of the passing political parade that continues, world without end, amen . . .
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Chris Cox (R-CA) was nominated by the president to become the next Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission . . . he'll leave his seat in Congress but it is considered safe for the Republicans in the special election to replace him in California . . .likely next chairman could be House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Don Young (R-AK) who often went toe-to-toe with Cox over jurisdictional issues, part of the fractured authority that has paralyzed coherent oversight of Homeland Security . . . Young finagled a post on the panel as the House Leadership made the Committee permanent , becoming its senior member with 17 terms in the house . . . that seniority effectively trumped that of Cox, and it was a good time for him to move on . . . Young's Transportation Committee was the key to the big bucks in highway construction , so as Jerry McGuire said, “ Show me the money ” . . . the wily veteran lawmaker sees that the Homeland Security Committee will become more influential as a financial center . . .It is yet to be seen what will happen to the initiatives that are underway in the committee . . .Cox was adamant that R&D conducted for the war on terrorism could also benefit the U.S. economy . . . he said this month that the war on terrorism will be " an indefinite struggle " . . . at the 2005 Government Security Conference he challenged private companies to develop technology to enhance security and make the U.S. economy stronger . . . Specifically, he called for research in cargo container inspection . . .he said “ technology investments must be sustainable and the government should ensure that basic federal research can quickly become applied technology ” . . . Cox will be missed on the committee . . . House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis , R-Va., continues his feisty jabs at flaccid government . . . this month he wants to know if Continuity of Operations plans really work . . . he asked the agencies if they are prepared to continue working under emergency conditions . . . Maintaining government operations during natural disasters, fires and other threats is critical, and Davis is concerned that agencies do not do enough to prepare for disaster . . . he suspects the COOP plans have significant shortcomings, and has asked the Government Accountability Office to perform an assessment . . . GAO used to be known as the “Accounting” arm of government, but they are now charged with a much larger role in holding bureaucrats responsible for their actions . . . A bipartisan group of House members appealed to the Appropriations Committee in support of the perennial military-civilian pay parity issue . . . government workers are afraid that the military will get preferential treatment in view of the difficulty in recruiting and retaining quality people in the War on Terror . . . A letter was sent to Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA), and ranking member David Obey, (D-WI) . . . Government workers (a famous Potomac oxymoron) will probably stay even with the troops . . . The Appropriations Committee is developing the fiscal 2006 appropriations bill covering the Transportation , Treasury , Housing and Urban Development, departments, the judiciary and the DC Government, and also contains pay guidance for the rest of the federal workforce.
The Five-sided Adult Care Facility in Arlington continues to boil with activity as the temperatures rise . . . House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) decided to strip language from the fiscal 2006 Defense Authorization bill that would have approved changes to the role of women in combat . . . the weaker language came after discussions with opponents of the provision, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) . . .The latest language, inserted in a manager's amendment , requires the Pentagon to give Congress sixty legislative days notice before opening any of the 191 military occupations now closed to women . . . the provision was a black eye to Republicans, who winced after accounts of heroism by female soldiers in Military Police units circulated . . . and the first Silver Star for gallantry was issued to a female solider since WWII . . . meanwhile, the Army is missing its recruiting numbers again. . . original target was 8,700 recruits for the month of May, which was revised downward to less than 6,000 . . . the actual number of new enlistments was 25% below that . . . the prospect that the Volunteer Force is being broken is very real as the pace of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan continue . . . Congress will probably open hearings if the trend does not change . . . Army is optimistic that the summer months will turn things around as new high school graduates come on the job market . . . Anyone up for Baghdad?
Base Reallocation and Closure Process Grinds On
After Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld backpedaled on the total number of installations to be closed in the latest BRAC round , key Senators are complaining that DoD is still not releasing the documents used to develop the closure recommendations . . . the Pentagon has opened a secure room for lawmakers and congressional staffers with security clearances to view the available documents . . . Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) criticized the Pentagon for slow-rolling the process . . .the Groton submarine base slated for closure is a hot-button for Lieberman , an occasional ally of the Administration . . . the next step is for the BRAC panel to actually visit regional bases and hold hearings . . . historically, 90% of the original list stands up to the review process . . . but those bases that made it through this round are breathing a sigh of relief . . . they are safe until the next time, and this one was so painful that there is little appetite for another any time soon . . . Arlington residents are angry that DARPA is leaving the Courthouse neighborhood for the Maryland suburbs . . . who can afford to move, or worse, cross the River to go to work?
Boeing Tanker IG Investigation Completed
Pentagon officials testified this month before the Senate Armed Services Committee on a just-completed inspector general investigation into the Air Force's tainted deal with Boeing to lease a fleet of KC-767 aerial refueling tankers . . . the investigation was ordered last year when Congress heard of alleged corruption to the cancelled deal . . . The lineup on the Hill included acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England , acting Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Michael Wynne , acting Air Force Secretary Michael Dominguez , Pentagon Inspector General Joseph Schmitz and Deputy Inspector General Thomas Gimble . . . former USAF Assistant Chief of Staff (Acquisition) Darleen A. Druyun was sentenced Oct. 1 to prison time after she admitted giving Boeing preferential treatment on the $20 billion tanker program in exchange for subsequent employment . . . Druyun insisted she was not swayed . . . contractors and government officials are still shuddering over the prospects of jail-time for shady business practices . . . even a short stay at Camp Cupcake with Martha Stewart is bad for the resume . . .
Defense Procurement and Acquisition to Emphasize Performance-based Payments
But the Government still has to do business, and the ponderous acquisition process is just not responsive to emerging priorities, like stopping the infernal Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq , or container inspection . . . Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) Director Deirdre Lee is advocating more aggressive use of performance-based contracts in response to public criticism of projects like the Aerial Tanker and the Army's Future Combat System . . .the Agency is now on record saying “contracting officers should be given leeway in determining how to manage performance-based contracts ” . . . revision to the Federal Acquisition Regulations may need to be more explicit in advocating the rewards for good work . . . Lee favors calling on contracting officers to explain their decision when performance-based payments are not used . . . Camp Cupcake looms out there for leaning too far forward, so is it any wonder that contracting officers are cautious?
Around the Intelligence Community:
DNI Negroponte has been on the job for two months and his enemies started sniping before he even arrived . . . still, the Ambassador has scored some significant victories as he begins to consolidate his new position . . . First up was where to work . . . The DNI will apparently take over two top floors of the new DIA facility at Bolling AFB when the building is complete . . . Prospective staff members are blanching at the prospect of leaving Mclean for SE Washington and a trip across the River each day to work . . . rumor has it that the DNI is looking to take over Navy Hill , across the street from State in Foggy Bottom for his ultimate home . . . And on Maslow's hierarchy of needs , the DNI needs a place to live, but he also needs safety from predators . . . The first of three confrontations came in early June, when FBI officials backed off their opposition to coordinating senior appointments with his staff . . . The G-men indicated they would accept joint authority for nominating the new Bureau Chief for Counter-intelligence, effectively the number three man at the FBI . . . previously, it was unthinkable that anyone but Director Mueller would control the nomination, or that the appointee would come from anywhere except the ranks of the Bureau . . . more to come on names for the new post . . . this could bring the FBI under greater oversight, something the Bureau had largely avoided during the 9/11 investigation . . . but the DNI's second victory was on the issue of who will control the Intel Community . . . increasingly, it looks like outsiders . . . Retired Vice Admiral John “Scott” Redd was named by President Bush to be the new Director of the National Counter Terrorism Center . . . The Administration had been up against a legislative deadline of 17 June to make an appointment and establish the chain of command for the newly augmented center . . . If confirmed, Redd will replace career CIA employee John Brennan as the Chief . . . Brennan had received high marks for taking on his old agency and the FBI but it did not get him the permanent position . . . DNI Negroponte is appointing experienced bureaucrats with no direct intelligence background to the top jobs . . . Redd was a destroyer commander on active duty before rising to command the FIFTH Fleet in Bahrain, and directed seven combat operations in the Gulf . . . the Admiral also directed military policy and creation of the key National Military Strategy document that directs what capabilities DoD requires . . . favorable mention of a program in the NMS can make or break a program manager . . . Redd also attended NSC meetings in the Clinton White House . . . and most recently served as executive director of the Silberman-Robb Presidential Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction . . . Under law and executive order, Redd will be responsible at NCTC for “the central organization for analyzing and integrating all foreign and domestic intelligence on terrorism” and he is chartered to conduct "strategic operational planning for counterterrorism operations ” at home and abroad . . . these missions have traditionally been the purview of the CIA and FBI . . . The President still has to decide whether Redd will report directly to him , or go through DNI Negroponte . . . the battle for the IC is by no means over, or even really begun . . . with the June announcement of the impending retirement of DIA Director VADM Lowell “Jake” Jacoby , that will open the leadership of DIA, NSA and NRO all at the same time . . . the DNI's third major encounter of the new summer season was with Congress . . . Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence backed off on his attempt to curtail the powers of DNI . . .the showdown occurred in a tussle over the 2006 intelligence authorization bill . . . Hoekstra had inserted language that would have limited the authority of the DNI to transfer CIA, Pentagon, FBI or other intelligence specialists within the community . . . there was also a provision stipulating that the CIA retains control of all overseas intelligence collection ,as it has since 1947 . . . The Pentagon insisted that the language had to come out . . . Democrats on the committee revolted over the provisions , led by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) and Negroponte's organization lobbied hard against them . . .under existing law, the he may transfer up to 100 intelligence employees to new centers such as the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) or the National Counter-Proliferation Center , the creation of which was strongly recommended in the intelligence reform bill . . . he also sent a memo to CIA Station Chiefs in May, telling them they worked for him . . . Armed Services Chair Duncan Hunter (R-CA) had tried to insert a similar provision in the Defense Authorization Bil l last month but was beaten back . . .reportedly Hunter , an opponent of the intelligence reform measure, encouraged Hoekstra to continue the attack . . . the tussle indicates Ambassador Negroponte has some political capital, and also some implacable enemies on the Hill . . .
Security Clearance Czar Still Not Named
Elsewhere, the White House is having trouble complying with the deadlines in the 9/11 legislation . . . it is almost a month late in naming a senior official to oversee the federal security clearance process . . .and it is mum on when it might get to it . . . The intelligence reform law, signed seven months ago, calls for a security clearance "czar" to ensure that agencies adhere to standard procedures for granting clearances and that they are reciprocal . . . The czar was supposed to be in place by mid-March, but the designation of the coordinating agency for security clearance reform has not been made , and that makes it hard to nominate a candidate . . . Clearances are a mess . . . by some estimates there are over 100,000 investigations pending, and the Cold War security process has virtually ground to a halt as the Office of Personnel Management and the Defense Investigative Service wait to see who will be in charge . . .
Secretary Mike Chertoff is nearing the end of his top-to-bottom review of the Department . . .The results of the investigation are expected to be in line with the recommendations of the Heritage-CSIS joint report issued early this year, and could lead to a flattening of the Department's structure . . . there are likely to be changes to the role of the Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection and Infrastructure Assurance . . . the Department had problems executing funding under former Secretary Tom Ridge , and now has essentially stopped making major funding decisions until the review is completed . . . still, events are continuing to unfold, and will do so over the summer . . .
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Evaluates Border Needs
CBP is conducting a comprehensive assessment of every mile of the nation's borders to determine what resources and personnel it needs . . . Commissioner Robert Bonner is committed to the survey, which will provide a baseline for requirement in the America's Shield Initiative (ASI) which has languished since its announcement last year . . . While the assessment is being done, the CBP will continue an aggressive campaign to gain control over a porous sector of the western Arizona border where a public advocacy group called “The Minutemen” embarrassed the Administration by reporting thousands of illegals in a controversial action some called vigilante law . . . Bonner says his organization will defeat drug smugglers and illegal immigration , regardless of how long it takes . . . placing an integrated network of sensors on the southern and northern borders will generate billions of dollars in contracts, once DHS gets it requirements act together . . . New Chair of the Homeland Security Committee Don Young knows how to make money flow . . .it remains to be seen if he can direct DHS to do so as well . . . the CBP survey is the basis for establishment of a program office . . .a program of record will not be in place until FY-07 at the earliest . . . Bonner is also needs thousands of additional agents for the U.S. Border Patrol and is considering how to effectively use volunteer citizen patrols of his own . . . Bonner says he still has to walk the plan through DHS . . .
Containers: HSARPA is Thinking Outside the Box
The Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) released a Request For Information, predecessor to a Request for Proposal in mid-June for existing devices that can verify the integrity of shipping containers . . . the agency has previously funded research into advanced and next-generation container security technology . . . the RFI states clearly it is not a guarantee a forthcoming solicitation, but the odds are good that it will . . . DHS is interested in looking at the universe of currently available devices to test in the laboratory and under field and operational conditions . . . particularly devices that can sense if a container's door is open or removed , and distinguish gaps in the door created by movements and impact during transport . . . They should also be able to record a digital file of events and withstand shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, corrosion and other elements of the harsh environments involved in maritime shipping . . . that is a tall order, but the RFI was the result of increased collaboration between S&T, HSARPA's parent, and Customs and Border Protection . . . the sense of urgency is real . . . the difference is that S&T actually has money to spend . . .
TSA starts background checks on HAZMAT Truckers but Fumbles Secure Flight; Agency is Pawn in Funding Game Between Senate and House
Commercial truck drivers who want to renew or transfer their licenses to transport hazardous materials must undergo mandatory fingerprint and background checks under new rules issued this month . . . outgoing TSA Administrator David Stone estimates there are about 2.7 million truckers licensed to carry hazardous materials . . . The new rule is the third and final phase of the agency's Hazmat Threat Assessment Program . . . Stone said the new vetting procedures are in place and first time applicants will have to submit fingerprints and have a background check . . . connectivity, networks and databases are going to be required at TSA . . .meanwhile, House appropriators are hitting the Administration in the pocketbook for falling further behind on a program to screen airline passengers through government databases . . . and in the bill the Appropriations Committee passed the program would receive $66 million -- $15 million less than President Bush requested but $31 Million above last year's enacted level . . .Stone's people recently told House appropriators that they would not have Secure Flight fully operational by October, but rather would roll out the system to all commercial airliners next year . . . That program would demand biometric information from frequent travelers in exchange for shorter waits in security screening lines . . . TSA is also the bill-payer for the failure of Congress to implement a security surcharge to the Airlines to cover enhanced security . . . the Senate mark is against the salaries of the gate screeners . . . the motivation is to force outsourcing of the jobs to the same companies who did not detect the 9/11 hijackers . . . but sources say that with new policy and technology everything is going to be just fine . . . Congress faces a shortfall because of increasing Homeland security costs, a declining discretionary budget due to the deficit reduction move and a reluctance to impose additional user fees on the airlines because of their shaky financial situation . . . the House took a different tack, hitting the Coast Guard's Deepwater upgrade for a half billion dollars . . .there is till confusion over who is law enforcement and who is the Navy . . . But Senator Stevens (R-AK), Senate Approps Chair, is the Big Dog and a big fan of the Coast Guard, and the money will have to be sorted out in Conference with the House . . .
Homeland Security Starts in Space
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is on record as saying he wants to establish an entire new federal asteroid-response agency . . . NASA currently has the deep-space surveillance mission but is eager to have some help dealing with the asteroid nightmare collision scenario . . . his committee wants to avoid the mass extinction of the species, which would hurt the incumbents in the next general election . . . The charter to find and track objects belongs to the agency's Near Earth Object program . . .further responsibilities would require diversion of existing resources, so the answer is an entirely new Agency . . . if real money starts to flow, expect DoD's NORTHERN Command or DHS to fight for the dollars . . . In the real world, New NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin has decided to replace about 20 senior space agency officials by mid-August in the first stage of a broad agency shake-up . . .The departures include the two leaders of the human spaceflight program , which is making final preparations to fly the space shuttle for the first time in more than two years . . . Griffin apparently wants to clear away entrenched bureaucracy , and build a less political and more scientifically oriented team to implement President Bush's plan to return humans to the Moon by 2020 and eventually send them to Mars . . . Senate Dems would like to send the President . . .
Funding for Medical Computing System In Jeopardy?
The future looks grim for an ambitious plan to modernize the Veterans Affairs Department's medical computing system . . . the system would upgrade the existing Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, known as VistA . . . A House Appropriations subcommittee recommended in late May that the department receive just $11 million in fiscal 2006 for the new system, far short of the $311 million President Bush requested . . .The proposed HealtheVet system would include Web-based electronic medical records, a data repository for longitudinal and population studies, management and administrative tools and other functions . . . The $311 million request would have been the first installment of a 10-year, $3.5 billion plan . . . VA stopped implementation last year of its Core Financial and Logistics System after an unsuccessful pilot in Bay Pines, Fla . . . Then, to avoid another late-in-the-game failure, VA CIO Robert MacFarland hired Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute to evaluate the plans for HealtheVet . . . the institute said the system was risky and poorly planned . . .
Industry Partners and Competitors
In case you missed it, Titan Corporation is finally gone . . . L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. will buy San Diego-based Titan for just under $2 billion in cash . . . Previous merger talks between Titan and Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin fell apart during a foreign bribery investigation . . . Titan was also implicated in creative contracting in Iraq, which stretched GSA Information Technology contract vehicles into interrogation services at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere . . .Titan has the second highest number of contractor casualties in Iraq (KBR Halliburton has the most) . . .The addition of Titan gives L-3 a much stronger presence in the information technology services market, particularly when it comes to work for the intelligence agencies . . . Titan had a workforce with a high proportion of security clearances . . .about 9,000 of its 12,000 employees are cleared, with 5,000 of those having SCI access , which can take years to process under existing rules . . . the chaos in the Government security system makes L3 a strong player for classified work . . .
It is not all whispers in the corridors in Washington and the coming of summer brought the social whirl to a new peak . . . President Bush's annual picnic is a benchmark in the social season . . . politicos and contractors joined to meet and greet on the lawn . . . there was a chance to chat with the President , if you were lucky, and Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfield . . . other attendees at the posh Texas-style BBQ included most Bush appointees, and many Members of Congress . . .. also chatted up were White House appointees Brenda Becker, and Ruben Morales . . . and was guess who was invited by Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) to dine at their table? . . . The Senators had a lively discussion regarding Coleman's oversight on Kofi Annan's “oil for food” debacle . . . Director of the Peace Corps, Gaddi Vasquez discussed African priority countries for the Bush Administration . . . Congressmen Jim McDermott, Joe Wilson, Buck McKeon, and Don Manzullo also shared views . . . and things heat up in the evening, too . . . the high-profile American Israeli PAC (AIPAC) and the President's Dinner were hot tickets, both held at the lavish new Washington Convention Center . . . 300 House Members, 60 Senators, and many members of the diplomatic community were in attendance at AIPAC . . .the old Center has been demolished and is now an enormous vacant lot, ready for multiple use-development between China Town and the K Street Law Firms . . . with buildings going up and coming down, there are cranes everywhere and city-scapes previously unknown . . . the right connection could have got you entrance to the annual First Ladies Luncheon honoring First Lady Laura Bush . . . attendees included Lynn Cheney , Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao , and the spouses of the Bush Administration Cabinet Secretaries, Supreme Court, and House & Senate Leadership . . . The hot topic at most of the functions was the humidity, and when the two week vacation with the family at the Beach House in Duck, North Carolina , was scheduled . . .
Next Update: mid-July, 2005