House seeks records in contracting case
Thursday, November 26, 2009
A House oversight panel this week called on Army Secretary John M. McHugh to provide procurement documents, e-mail and other material related to almost $200 million worth of technology contracts involving the Communications-Electronics Command.
The request by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee comes as part of an investigation of a former Army program manager who allegedly shared sensitive procurement information with a favored contractor and allegedly "steered contracts to a particular company," according to a Nov. 23 letter to McHugh.
The committee seeks details about the award of a contract worth up to $185 million to BearingPoint, and the relationship that the program manager, George Raymond, had with two friends who worked there, the letter said.
The committee said it also wants to know whether "Raymond's subsequent employment with a Federal contractor" -- Computer Sciences Corp. -- "is consistent with regulations under the Procurement Integrity Act."
A spokesman for the Army said the service will cooperate and has begun gathering the requested documents.
Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) has said the committee intends to use the probe to kick off a broader examination of contracting problems at the Pentagon.
"Unfortunately, I think this case is an example of the failed accountability process within DOD that is in desperate need of reform," Towns said in a statement.
The committee began the probe in August, after a story in The Washington Post showed that the Army had conducted an internal inquiry and gathered evidence that Raymond had allegedly violated federal procurement rules. An Army official who wrote the report recommended a criminal investigation.
The Post found that Raymond retired shortly before Army officials said he was to have been fired. On his résumé, Raymond later cited senior Army officials as job references. Raymond also received a written recommendation from the Army colonel who signed off on the internal inquiry.
In recent weeks, committee investigators have interviewed people knowledgeable about the contracts, Raymond's work and his relationship with a contractor who was also a close friend. Committee investigators are preparing to conduct several more interviews, with the aim of holding a hearing on the matter.
Raymond did not respond to requests for an interview. Chuck Taylor, a Computer Sciences Corp. spokesman, said "Mr. Raymond was hired in accordance with all of CSC and government policies and procedures that govern individuals leaving government service." The spokesman said Raymond is chief technology officer for the firm's Army land programs.
The investigation focuses on a technology program that Raymond ran at Fort Belvoir as part of the Communications-Electronics Command.
In 2004, Raymond attended a technology conference in Hawaii, where he met Catherine Campbell, a contractor. The two became close friends and frequently sailed and walked together, documents and interviews show. They also traveled to conferences and frequently exchanged e-mail.
Last year, after an Army lawyer questioned the relationship, an internal Army inquiry found evidence that Raymond had allegedly violated several federal contracting regulations and laws, including passing on confidential government cost estimates to Campbell, according to an Army investigative report.
In the interview with The Post, Raymond acknowledged sharing the information, but he said he did so only to help teach Campbell how the procurement system works.
Federal law prohibits government officials from sharing confidential cost estimates with contractors. A conviction can result in five years in prison.
Campbell declined a request for an interview.