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Air Force Arranged No-Work Contract

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"It's a seriously questionable arrangement to have him on the payroll not even pretending to do assigned and properly monitored work," said Charles Tiefer, a contracting law professor at the University of Baltimore Law School. "The principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and management should not be making himself into a glaring example of what not to do with acquisition and management."

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In an interview, Cooper acknowledged that he hired Riechers at the request of the Air Force. Cooper said he did not know precisely what Riechers did for the government, saying he did not ask because he assumed such information was available only on a "need-to-know" basis.

Contrary to Riechers's account, Cooper said they had met once at the Pentagon before Riechers was hired to be a part of a studies-and-analysis program at the company. "It was not just a make-work-type task," Cooper said.

Riechers was paid a total of $26,788 as part of the contract to provide research to the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. In a statement, Riechers said he had no problem accepting the pay because Commonwealth Research is a nonprofit organization "that had an established relationship" with the military service. Riechers said he has not made any decisions relating to Commonwealth Research contracts since his appointment.

"We needed some way to kind of gap me," Riechers said about the temporary job.

The Air Force defended the arrangement, saying Riechers was well qualified to perform the work.

"While Mr. Riechers's appointment was pending, the Air Force identified an opportunity to gain immediately from Mr. Riechers's expertise under a preexisting contract and open task order with Commonwealth Research," the Air Force said.

Commonwealth Research was created a decade ago. In documents filed with the IRS, the firm describes itself as "a national resource committed to assisting industry and government achieve world-class competitiveness."

Documents show Commonwealth Research apparently had no revenue for several years. That changed in 2004, when it reported revenue of almost $633,000. The company reported receiving government funding totaling $3.2 million in fiscal 2006. At least two-thirds of that came from the Air Force, according to Daniel R. DeVos, chief executive of Concurrent and chairman of Commonwealth Research.

Commonwealth Research has about 20 employees who DeVos said are involved in "very specialized work for DoD and the intelligence community." Cooper, the Commonwealth Research president, said about eight of those employees are interns or students hired to save the government money.

Commonwealth Research is one of eight Concurrent subsidiaries, documents show. That includes at least four other tax-exempt organizations and three for-profit firms.

Concurrent reported more than $248 million in revenue for fiscal 2006 -- almost triple the amount a decade ago. About $213 million of that total came from "government contributions (grants)," according to tax documents. The company said much of its revenue comes in the form of fully competed contract awards.

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