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A report released today by GAP coalition partner Project on Government Oversight (POGO) found that the federal government actually spends more money using privately contracted work than it would using government employees for the same tasks. In fact, the study shows this is true for 33 of the 35 occupations that POGO analyzed.
A very important point, considering the federal government spends $320 billion per year on contract services.
In recent months, many politicians have been critical of the wages and benefits for federal employees. President Obama has already announced a two-year freeze on the salaries of federal employees. Justification of this might have come from a 2010 Heritage Foundation study, which put forth that the salaries of federal workers are 22 percent higher than those of private sector workers. However, as the New York Times puts it:
POGO said its study did not just compare the salaries of the two sectors; instead it focused on what the government actually pays contractors to perform services versus how much it would cost to have that work done by in-house staff members.
"That's a big difference," said Scott Amey, POGO's general counsel. "We compared the full compensation paid to federal government and private sector employees to the billable rates in federal service contracts. Across the board you see that it cost government more to pay for contractors."
Is it a big difference? You bet!:
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Photo by Tim PearceWith corruption and wrongdoing evident in all types of industries, governments and organizations, following news related to whistleblowers can lead to some pretty interesting places. Dressing rooms are a new one.
But an anonymous whistleblower from a Florida-based Macy's department store seems to have exposed not only a local issue involving shopper privacy rights, but also a potentially systemic nationwide practice by Macy's (and other stores) to watch shoppers as they change clothes.
The hubbub seems to have started when local news outlets in Central and South Florida followed up on a tip from a Macy's whistleblower that the changing room door slats were tilted the wrong way. That is, instead of facing up (when looking at the door from the outside), they face down. Essentially, the doors have been installed backwards. This means that passersby, or department store personnel, can easily look into the dressing rooms and see people changing.
The whistleblower (who is remaining anonymous) is a former "loss prevention officer" at Macy's who's apparently been involved in loss prevention management for nearly 20 years. Loss Prevention personnel are the people who are put in charge of taking measures against shoplifting. As the following video (from WTSP Tampa) shows, the whistleblower was shocked on Day One at his Macy's job to discover the state of the dressing rooms.
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Cisco Systems apparently doesn't like whistleblowers. As in really doesn't like. A story emerged today (the Vancouver Sun first broke the story last month) that reads like an Alfred Hitchcock movie script: regular guy gets caught up in corporation's nefarious plots.
Our Cary Grant in this story is Peter Adekeye, a former executive for Cisco and founder of Multiven, an Internet infrastructure maintenance service, and Pingsta, a cloud software and services provider.
In 2008, Adekeye, a British citizen, had moved back to Britain and eventually to Zurich, Switzerland. Later that year, he filed a civil suit against Cisco, alleging that Cisco's forced maintenance contracts for Cisco products hurt competition and consumers. Essentially, these contracts forced customers to go back to Cisco for any repairs instead of being able to use outside servicing.
That's when all the trouble started. Adekeye wanted to return to the United States in order to participate in the case. He was denied entry. Several times. Finally, the two sides agreed to meet in Vancouver, Canada. Turns out that before they even met, Cisco had filed a criminal complaint against Adekeye, claiming he had illegally accessed their computer network. They convinced U.S Homeland Security authorities that he was "a 'sinister' Nigerian on the run from 97 charges of illegal computer hacking." Homeland Security, in turn, told the Canadian authorities.
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Courtesy of Flickr user marktci
In my role monitoring news from around the world related to whistleblowing, sports stories don't pop up frequently. Certainly a few years back, virtually every single time I saw the actual word "whistleblower" in an international article related to sports, it was used to describe the referee in Australian Rules Football, or soccer.
But this New York Times article has prompted a recurring thought of mine ... why are there no league-wide whistleblower protections in professional sports?
Specifically, the article discusses how game fixing has been on the rise in the international soccer community for some time now. And the breadth of corruption, at first glance, is startling. Describing game fixing as "a problem that has plagued the sport for decades," the article lists current investigations taking place in Turkey, South Korea, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Germany, El Salvador, Israel, China, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Thailand, and Greece.
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Operation Fast and Furious (F&F) – a program run by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that allowed thousands of lethal weapons to cross the Mexican border – was apparently no secret among high-level political authorities at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Among those in the know? Newly-confirmed Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
Information is now seeping out about the political whiplash that secured a confirmation vote for Cole in exchange for the DOJ’s release of documents to Congress. In a supremely ironic twist, the documents ransomed by Cole’s confirmation strongly suggest that Cole himself was involved in the cover-up of F&F.
To recap, James Cole is no stranger to serious misconduct occurring during his alleged “watch.” Cole was the “Independent Consultant” stationed at AIG by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before, during and after the financial meltdown of 2008. Despite his oversight responsibilities, Cole looked the other way as the AIG Financial Products Division in London ran the corporation off the rails, ultimately driving the international economy off a cliff. The cost to US taxpayers of the AIG bailout was more than $150 billion.
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As an attorney who represents clients who submit "tips" to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) through its new whistleblower program, I have recently published a guide to the new SEC rules that allow corporate insiders to earn substantial monetary awards for reporting securities violations to the Commission.
Since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, many employees of public companies have faced retaliation for blowing the whistle on shareholder fraud and other securities violations. Under the new SEC program, whistleblowers who help the agency bring successful enforcement actions against securities-law violators can qualify for the awards of 10% to 30% of the amount the SEC recovers.
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The issue of how to treat whistleblowers who themselves participated in wrongdoing – the very actions and schemes that they are blowing the whistle on – is a difficult one. Specifically, the ramifications for these whistleblowers coming forward, and the fallout, is a bit dicey regarding two areas: prison time, and 'bounties.'
With bounties, I'm talking about government agencies that reward whistleblowers for coming forward. The SEC just issued rules regarding its new whistleblower bounty program (after months of debate on multiple issues), a result of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. Basically, whistleblowers from corrupt companies can now report financial wrongdoing on Wall Street, and when the government recoups over $1 million as a result of their disclosures, they get a cut.
But on "culpable whistleblowers," the agency's rules clearly dictate that no payment shall come their way:
Under the final rules, the Commission also will not pay culpable whistleblowers awards that are based upon either:
- The monetary sanctions that such culpable individuals themselves pay in the resulting SEC action.
- The monetary sanctions paid by entities whose liability is based substantially on conduct that the whistleblower directed, planned or initiated.
The purpose of this provision is to prevent wrongdoers from benefitting by, in effect, blowing the whistle on themselves.