POGO in the News

 BuzzFeed News

People Have Panicked Every Time Rod Rosenstein Was Reportedly
Leaving His Job. This Time It’s Different. Liz Hempowicz, director of
public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, said the close
attention paid to Rosenstein’s comings and goings spoke to the need for
broader protections for the Special Counsel’s Office — she said she hoped the possibility of Rosenstein’s departure would push Congress to pass
legislation allowing a court to review any decision to remove a special
counsel. The independence of a special counsel shouldn’t rise or fall with one person, she said.

“If there wasn’t this ambiguity of who was overseeing the investigation,
will it be able to go through to its natural conclusion, I don’t think we’d be having this same conversation and watching what’s going on with
individuals at the Department of Justice at the deputy attorney general
level,” Hempowicz said. “It’s natural for people to cycle out of
government after a few years.”
 Federal News Network, Federal Drive with Tom TeminWatchdog group:
Lasting effects of a prolonged government shutdown [Audio] Sean
Moulton, Program Manager at the Project On Government Oversight:

There’s obviously the immediate impact of hundreds of thousands of
people without getting paychecks, without going to work, and during this kind of a time, it’s particularly problematic for people trying to pay their bills … 

It creates quite a ripple effect in the economy. 

But beyond that, the real impact is when these shutdowns start to affect the programs that so many people rely on. Because then you go from hundreds of thousands, to talking about impact on millions. 

Listen to the show (10:46)
 PoliticoNew Pentagon chief under scrutiny over perceived Boeing
bias Mandy Smithberger, director of the military reform program at the Project on Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information, said Shanahan’s comments could raise questions about his ability to give an
unbiased view of programs.

“It’s reasonable that people would question whether he is making these
comments based on actual policies and performance versus biases and
conflicts that he might have from his former employer,” she said.

Asked whether a deputy Defense secretary could feasibly recuse himself
from Boeing-related matters, Smithberger said it would be “pretty close
to impossible.”

Though Shanahan has a subordinate who screens matters that come to
him in order to prevent him from considering Boeing-related matters,
government officials frequently interpret the law narrowly, Smithberger said. “They’ll ask, ‘Is Boeing an entity competing for a program?’ rather
than, ‘This policy decision, could it be profitable to Boeing or benefit them in another way?’ That’s why, when people have this deep of a conflict, we wonder if they can really occupy this kind of a position.”

Dan Grazier, a military expert with the Project on Government Oversight, said that even if Shanahan isn’t violating his ethics agreement, he risks
coloring the decisions of underlings if he draws too heavily on specific
Boeing experience.

“You get into a gray area if he’s saying these things in front of what can
only now be subordinates talking about these types of matters,” Grazier
said. “There can be some undue influence issues with that.”

Grazier, a critic of the revolving door between industry and government agencies, said he’s reserving judgment on Shanahan until he sees him in action as secretary.

He said people with industry experience have a checkered past when they take on senior Defense Department positions.
 The American ConservativeMattis: One More General for the ‘Self Licking Ice Cream Cone’ According to a recent report by the Project on Government Oversight, 25 generals, nine admirals, 43 lieutenant generals, and 23 vice admirals retired to become lobbyists, board members, executives, or consultants for the defense industry between 2008 and 2018. They are part of a much larger group of 380 high-ranking government officials and congressional staff who shifted into the industry in that time.

To get a sense of the demand, according to POGO, which had to compile all of this information through Freedom of Information requests, there were 625 instances in 2018 alone in which the top 20 defense contractors (think Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin) hired senior DoD officials for high-paying jobs—90 percent of which could be described as “influence peddling.”
 New York Magazine, IntelligencerActing Defense Secretary Accused of Boosting Boeing, His Former Employer The former official also said
that Shanahan would use the word “we” when talking about Boeing.

This is the problem with appointing someone with “this deep of a
conflict,” says Mandy Smithberger of the Project on Government
Oversight’s Center for Defense Information. She told Politico that after
Shanahan spent his entire career at Boeing, it would be “pretty close to
impossible” for him to recuse himself from all Boeing-related matters.
 Mother JonesTrump’s First Defense Secretary Was a “Mad Dog.” Will His Second Be a Lapdog? Without a clear-eyed understanding of the
Pentagon’s institutional history, Shanahan will be at a disadvantage when it comes to implementing programs promoted by Trump but reviled by
the entrenched military bureaucracy. “To be really successful as a
secretary of defense, you need someone who has the moral courage to be unpopular with the Services,” says Dan Grazier, a military historian and fellow at the Project on Government Oversight in Washington.
 SludgeJon Kyl Voted for New Nukes After Taking Payments From
Nuclear Company “It’d be one matter if the people of Arizona had
elected Kyl, knowing about all of these potential conflicts,” Mandy Smith
berger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on
Government Oversight, told Sludge. “But to have someone with all of
these personal financial conflicts appointed, and then placed on the key
committees that would benefit these companies, is exactly the kind of
swampy behavior that makes taxpayers lose confidence in our
 Mother JonesTrump Demands That Reports on Waste and Fraud in
Afghanistan Be “Locked Up” While nearly every federal agency has an
inspector general, an auditor who investigates claims of misconduct and, on occasion, refers matters to the Justice Department for prosecution,
Congress set up SIGAR to be more independent. Even though many of its
staffers are drawn from the Department of Defense, it is run separately
from the Pentagon. However, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has the legal ability to order its reports classified, according to Mandy Smithberger of the Project on Government Oversight. The organization
sent a letter to Shanahan last week urging him to reject Trump’s order,
warning of an “an unprecedented and dangerous attempt to silence these important watchdogs.”
 POGO recommendation cited by Congressional Research ServiceStatutory Inspectors General in the Federal Government: A Primer [PDF] In addition, some observers have argued that certain statutory requirements do not promote IG effectiveness. For example, the Project on
Government Oversight argued that statutorily required metrics in IG
semiannual reports focus on program outputs—such as the dollar value
of disallowed costs—but not necessarily on program outcomes and that
the IG peer review process focuses on compliance with applicable quality standards and does not evaluate the quality or effectiveness of an IG’s

Including an evaluation of IG performance and effectiveness as part of
the peer review process might warrant consideration the potential
impact on the way in which IGs approach, conduct, and report on audits and investigations.
 Gotham GazetteNo, Mayor de Blasio, We Can’t Rely on Amazon ‘To Put Moral Considerations Ahead of Profit’ As was reported in the Daily
Beast in October, documents obtained by the Project on Government
Oversight show that Amazon pitched its controversial facial recognition
technology to ICE last summer. In addition, a group of Amazon employees, troubled by the relationship, called on the company to sever its ties to
 Gotham GazetteNo, Mayor de Blasio, We Can’t Rely on Amazon ‘To Put Moral Considerations Ahead of Profit’ As was reported in the Daily
Beast in October, documents obtained by the Project on Government
Oversight show that Amazon pitched its controversial facial recognition
technology to ICE last summer. In addition, a group of Amazon employees, troubled by the relationship, called on the company to sever its ties to
 The National InterestF-35 Stealth Fighter: Not Ready for War? The
troubled $1.5 trillion F-35 program is not ready to begin the critical
combat-testing phase, the Pentagon’s testing director said in a previously undisclosed August memo obtained by the Center for Defense
Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). That
decision marks another setback in the development of the Pentagon’s
largest acquisition program.
 Military.comFirst Female Air Force F-35 Test Pilot Marks Mission Milestone Last July, close-air support tests between the F-35 and A-10
Warthog finished up at Edwards as part of a congressionally mandated
requirement that the two aircraft go up against each other.

The stipulation was included as a provision in the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act amid congressional concerns over plans to retire the A-10 and replace it with the F-35.

A Project on Government Oversight report slammed the “skewed” testing, saying at the time the flights overwhelmingly favored the F-35. But
aviation enthusiasts and pilots have also said putting the two aircraft side-by-side remains an apples-to-oranges comparison.

It’s why the Air Force consistently avoided calling the highly anticipated
test a “fly-off.”

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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