The Buzz

High-Stakes Training

Nothing like a big bundle of money to focus the mind, and that's just what the Army meant to do when it opened bidding on one of the largest, most ambitious training contracts of the decade. In the hope of taking advantage of economies of scale and consolidation, the Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation pulled together three current contracts into one winner-take-all $11.2 billion, 10-year contract. Yup, you read that right, "billion."

Training is a big business and one that's undergoing massive, onrushing change due to the conjuncture of war with an adaptive, unconventional enemy and the near-ubiquity among soldier-age Americans of highly detailed, lifelike computer games.

On June 5, an alliance headed by Raytheon Co. and Computer Sciences Corp. won the sweepstakes, the War-fighter Field Operations Customer Support contract, or Warfighter FOCUS. It was one of the largest contracts in Raytheon's history. The winning team, 64 companies in all, will maintain and operate simulators, live-fire training devices and computer-generated war games. Raytheon and CSC will run the show from their facilities in Orlando, Fla., near the Army program office. Local units of BAE Systems, DRS Technologies Inc., Rockwell Collins Inc. and Unitech Systems also are on board. The losing team, headed by General Dynamics Corp., included Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. The program office also recently was a winner. At the end of 2006, it won the right to be involved in the purchase of all training aids, whether they support general military training or specific weapon systems.

Previously, weapons system training was handled separately. Now, the office, known by the clunky moniker PEO STRI, will be the acquisition center of excellence for all training and testing enablers for the Army. FOCUS rolls up three current contracts that end Oct. 31, one with Raytheon for live-fire devices, another with CSC for virtual training simulators and a third with General Dynamics for computer-generated war games.

Fraud Busters

Contract fraud and public corruption are so out of control in Iraq that U.S. federal agencies are teaming up to investigate and prosecute them. The new International Contract Corruption Task Force was announced in the most recent Defense Department inspector general's report to Congress released on May 24. The task force will include the Army Criminal Investigative Command, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the FBI, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and the IGs for the Agency for International Development and the State Department.

It's not like the organizations haven't already been collaborating on Iraq cases. For example, Army investigators, DCIS, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service looked into kickbacks and gratuities solicited or received by KBR employees under an Army contract awarded for logistical support of military operations in Iraq. The case ended with two former government contractor employees receiving prison sentences and being fined after entering guilty pleas.

And since December 2005, the special IG's work with other agencies on Iraq reconstruction has resulted in 19 people or companies suspended, 16 others proposed for debarment, and nine debarred. This year, the special IG's oversight work prompted the Army to order Parsons Corp. to show cause why it should not be proposed for debarment. IG audits through April saved or recovered $49.7 million, while investigations recovered or seized another $9.5 million.

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