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Air Force Arranged No-Work Contract
Edward J. Sheehan Jr., a senior vice president and chief financial officer, said the IRS approved Concurrent's charitable status because the company "lessens the burden on governance" and helps "the federal government and American industry to perform more effectively through the use of emerging technologies."
A leading patron of Concurrent in Congress is Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), who represents the district where the company is based. Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, announced the creation of the company in 1987.
Murtha recently arranged $10 million in earmarks for the company for fiscal 2008, according to records compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group. One $3 million earmark is for an Air Force project.
Through a spokesman, Murtha said he has no financial ties to Concurrent. Murtha said the company's "quality work and research has resulted in improved equipment for our troops. Their competitive price has saved taxpayers money, and they continue to deliver on-time results."
Riechers is a decorated Air Force officer who retired in 2002. He joined SRI International, another nonprofit firm, as a senior technical adviser. From December 2002 to November 2006, he worked in a variety of Pentagon jobs while being paid by SRI International. In November, Riechers was nominated to be a senior acquisition official, taking the title last held by Darleen A. Druyun. She was sent to prison in 2004 after she left the Air Force for negotiating a job with Boeing while she worked for the government and for favoring the company in several procurement decisions.
At the time of his appointment, Riechers's job with SRI International ended.
Riechers worked for Commonwealth Research from Nov. 27 to Jan. 25. He was appointed to his federal post on Jan. 26 and "received an ethics briefing from Air Force lawyers the same day," said an Air Force statement.
Assistant Secretary Payton said in a statement that the Air Force needed someone who could meet "a unique set of requirements." He is now responsible for research, development and modernization programs at the Air Force worth more than $30 billion a year, according to his biography.
"The Air Force needs his skills, and we need him as the principal deputy to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition as we continue to acquire the next generation of weapon systems in a transparent and impartial manner," Payton said.
Steve Schooner, co-director of the Government Procurement Law Program at George Washington University, said the Air Force's use of Commonwealth Research to pay Riechers "seems to make a mockery of any number of fundamental public procurement laws and policies."
"It's not transparent, it's not competitive," he said, "and no one seems accountable for the process or the outcome."