“LAKEWOOD, Colo., June 12— A federal advisory panel recommended Tuesday that thousands of former workers at a nuclear weapons plant be denied immediate government compensation for illnesses that they say result from years of radiation exposure there.
The recommendation is a significant setback for a large number of people once employed as plutonium workers at the plant, Rocky Flats, 16 miles northwest of Denver. Their union, the United Steelworkers of America, had petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services to allow more than 3,000 of them to bypass a complex federal evaluation and compensation process established by Congress in 2000.”
The law was set up in the sweetest possible way. First, douse it in a seemingly humanitarian purpose: those workers at the plant whose employment coincided with periods in which the radiation records are non-existent get a pass. This is a small number of workers, and as their bones crumble and the white blood cell counts mount, the government is seemingly doing right by paying for their deaths. But – as they taught us in the Southern Baptist Church in my youth – there is nothing like making good by doing good. In this case, the burden is then put on those who worked at the plant when there was a grossly deficient and even fraudulent radiation record being kept, so that as this part of the low use population goes through the procedures of trying to wring some cure or therapy out of our medical system, the government that so kindly killed them gets to check and recheck their records and qualifications for tasting the littlest bit of recompense. You can’t give low use people money, after all – who knows what they would spend it on!
“In that time-consuming process, sick workers from Rocky Flats and other American nuclear facilities may apply for $150,000 in compensation, plus medical benefits, if there is evidence that they suffer from any of 22 kinds of cancer linked to radiation. A worker must first file a claim with the Labor Department, a step that brings a lengthy investigation in which scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, through records, research and interviews, determine eligibility by establishing the radiation dose incurred by the worker. If the scientists are unable to determine the dose, the worker may file for “special exposure cohort” status.
It was this status that was sought by the former Rocky Flats workers. But after more than two years of hearings and debate, the panel — the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — decided on a vote of 6 to 4 Tuesday that the occupational safety scientists could accurately determine dose exposure for almost all of the plant’s former workers.”
Oh, a little dribbles on your chin, there! Uncle sam can’t have that. Eat all his wastes, every little bit. Meanwhile, high enders too are asking Uncle for money. Remember this hit from 2004, the year America affirmed its satisfaction in its paragon and son, George Bush?
Auditors from the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Coalition Provisional Authority Inspector General (CPA IG) have repeatedly and consistently criticized multiple aspects of Halliburton's activities in Iraq. In nine different reports, these government auditors have found widespread, systemic problems with almost every aspect of Halliburton's work in Iraq, from cost estimation and billing systems to cost control and subcontract management.
Key findings from these audits include the following:
· In December 2003, a DCAA draft audit reported that Halliburton overcharged the Defense Department by $61 million to import gasoline into Iraq from Kuwait through September 30, 2003. (4)
· On December 31, 2003, a DCAA "Flash Report" audit found "significant" and "systemic" deficiencies in the way Halliburton estimates and validates costs. According to the DCAA audit, Halliburton repeatedly violated the Federal Acquisition Regulation and submitted a $2.7 billion proposal that "did not contain current, accurate, and complete data regarding subcontract costs." (5)
· On January 13, 2004, DCAA concluded that Halliburton's deficiencies "bring into question [Halliburton's] ability to consistently produce well-supported proposals that are acceptable as a basis for negotiation of fair and reasonable prices," and it urged the Corps of Engineers to "contact us to ascertain the status of [Halliburton's] estimating system prior to entering into future negotiations." (6)
· In a May 13, 2004, audit, DCAA reported "several deficiencies" in Halliburton's billing system that resulted in billings to the government that "are not prepared in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and contract terms." DCAA also found "system deficiencies resulting in material invoicing misstatements that are not prevented, detected and/ or corrected in a timely manner." The report emphasized Halliburton's inadequate controls over subcontract billings. The auditors "identified inadequate or nonexistent policies and procedures for notifying the government of potential significant subcontract problems that impact delivery, quality, and price" and determined that Halliburton "does not monitor the ongoing physical progress of subcontracts or the related costs and billings." (7)
· On June 25, 2004, the CPA IG found that, as a result of poor oversight, Halliburton charged U. S. taxpayers for unauthorized and unnecessary expenses at the Kuwait Hilton Hotel. According to the IG, the overcharges would have amounted to $3.6 million per year. (8)
· A July 26, 2004, CPA IG audit report found that Halliburton "did not effectively manage government property" and that the company's property records "were not sufficiently accurate or available to properly account for CPA property items." The IG "projected that property valued at more than $18.6 million was not accurately accounted for or was missing." (9)
· In July 2004, GAO found ineffective planning, inadequate cost control, and insufficient training of contract management officials under LOGCAP in Iraq. GAO reported that, when Halliburton acted as a middleman for the operation of dining halls, costs were over 40% higher. (10)
· In an August 16, 2004, memorandum, DCAA "identified significant unsupported costs" submitted by KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, and found "numerous, systemic issues . . . with KBR's estimates." According to DCAA, "while contingency issues may have had an impact during the earlier stages of the procurements, clearly, the contractor should have adequate supporting data by now." When DCAA examined seven LOGCAP task orders with a combined proposed value of $4.33 billion, auditors identified unsupported costs totaling $1.82 billion. (11)
· On November 23, 2004, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (formerly the CPA IG) examined a $569 million LOGCAP task order and found that Halliburton "did not provide . . . sufficiently detailed cost data to evaluate overall project costs or to determine whether specific costs for services performed were reasonable." The IG concluded that the Army "did not receive sufficient or reliable cost information to effectively manage" the task order. (12) Multiple criminal investigations of Halliburton's Iraq contracts are also ongoing. The Justice Department is investigating Halliburton's admission that two of its employees received up to $6.3 million in kickbacks to steer LOGCAP subcontracts to a Kuwaiti contractor. (13) The Defense Department Inspector General, the FBI, and the Justice Department are investigating allegations of fraud and overcharging for gasoline under the RIO contract. (14)
Understandably, some feared that Uncle Sam was not going to stand for this gang rape of taxpayers – and that would send an anti-free enterprise message around the world. If even the government of George Bush hurt the meritocrats who run some of our great corporations, CEO heros, who would be next! But those fears were put aside in 2006:
“Army to Pay Halliburton Unit Most Costs Disputed by Audit
By James Glanz
The New York Times
Monday 27 February 2006
The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.41 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq, even though the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified.
The Army said in response to questions on Friday that questionable business practices by the subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, had in some cases driven up the company's costs. But in the haste and peril of war, it had largely done as well as could be expected, the Army said, and aside from a few penalties, the government was compelled to reimburse the company for its costs.”
Hopefully, this clears up the vexed question of who counts in America: working class scum, or important investors who are giving their all in a time of peril.