Government contracting reform: Will President Obama fail to deliver?

Exclusive : The Commission on Wartime Contracting this week released its long-awaited interim report on the supposed spending abuses, waste and fraud of government contracting.  While it is being hyped as a condemnation of the past Administration  approach to wartime contracting, it is silent on the Obama Administration  failure to deliver on its promised contractor crackdown.   

Take the widely-reported case of Army Major John Cockerham Jr. (click here for the Washington Post story).  Cockerham is the contracting officer who pleaded guilty in a case where either he received or was awaiting up to $15 million in bribes for various contracts.      When Cockerham was arrested, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, called Cockerham  case the largest bribery case that’s come out of the Iraq reconstruction experience the largest bribery case that’s come out of the Iraq reconstruction experience.

A true "How-To" guide to getting busted for defrauding the government, the ledger included a detailed list of names of individuals and companies involved in his kickback scheme. (click here for a PDF of the Corckerham Bribe Ledger) With a list like that on-hand, one would assume investigators could just go down the list and catch the bad guys, right?      Not so fast.    

Despite the fact that the bribe ledger was seized by investigators in December 2006, it seems that some of the companies listed on the ledger have continued to do business with the government.    

Take Future Services, for example   listed on the ledger as  FS.  How are they helping with reconstruction efforts?      More than a year after investigators obtained the ledger listing the company among Cockerham  cohorts, they were stealing massive amounts of fuel from the U.S. government and selling it on the black market

And what about KMSCo.   named after its owner, Kamal Mustafa Sultan   and listed as  KMS on the bribe ledger?      Its operations manager was arrested in late 2003 for being involved in the theft of U.S. military fuel. KMS itself was reprimanded by the U.S. government for its role in the scheme and KMS had to pay a fine of about 150,000 Kuwaiti Dinars (about $525,000 U.S.) in restitution to the U.S. government. (click here for a PDF of the US Army KMS Restitution Letter)    

Now, more than two-and-a-half years after the bribe ledger was uncovered, they are still getting contracts from the U.S. Government, much like in this April 2008 document where the U.S. military actually specifically seeks out  Future Services and Kamal Mustafa Al-Sultan Company (KMS) (click here for a PDF of the Notice of Intent to Procure).     

President Barack Obama  "vowed" to crack down on  "outright fraud, and the absence of oversight and accountability"  We’ll see.  Only time will tell if that promise was more than just another great speech.        

About the author:  An award-winning journalist, Pat McGuigan is a longtime contributor to  Tulsa Today , who now serves as our contributing editor.  He is also editor of a weekly newspaper in Oklahoma City.