Monday, August 29, 2011

Clowns on Ice

Unhappily for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Department of the Interior Inspector General, PEER has been putting all of the material from their jihad against Charles Monnett on line. Eli has been picking up a few crumbs.

All the bunnies know that Dr. Monnett has been directed to go back to work AND that there is now an investigation of BOEMRE AND that the Department of Justice has declined Eric May's polite suggestion of a criminal prosecution, but Eli can go a bit further by pointing first to the letter of suspension that put Monnett on administrative leave with pay which states in the first paragraph

You will remain on administrative leave pending the final results of an Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation into integrity issues
but now we have the BOEMRE spokeswoman, Melissa Schwartz saying

The return of an employee to work does not suggest that future administrative actions cannot/will not be taken. Federal regulations create a presumption against lengthy administrative leaves. Lengthier administrative leaves are reserved for exceptional situations when all other options are considered insufficient to adequately protect the government's interests.
But wait, there is more. The latest letter from the IG's office is not from Eric May, but David Brown, the Special Agent in Charge, they are providing some adult supervision, and Brown is still headed down the yellow brick road.
Regarding the Mineral Management Service's sole source Contract # 1435-01-05-CT-39151, you admitted to assisting Dr. Andrew Derocher in preparing his proposal in response to the government's Request for Proposal (RFP). You further acknowledge that you then filled the position as Chair of the Technical Proposal Evaluation Committee (TPEC) for this particular contract. Accordingly, as the Chair of the TPEC, you were the government official responsible for reviewing Dr. Derocher's Proposal in order to ensure the Proposal met the minimum qualifications of the RFP. Essentially, you admitted that you reviewed a Proposal as the Chair of a TPEC, and thus the government official responsible for protecting the government's interest, that you helped draft.
How does Eli know that the OIG is headed right into the swamp? There is a letter on the PEER site from another contracting officer's technical representative who is [snark] asking for additional training.
Although I have been on Agency Technical Proposal Evaluation Committees (TPECs) for 30 years and a Contracting Officer’s Representative/Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative/Project Officer (COR/COTR/PO) for over 20 years, the issues being raised by Office of Inspector General (OIG) in regard to Dr. Monnett demonstrate that my COR training is incomplete. I therefore request that BOEMRE provide me and other CORs additional training in appropriate COR/pre-COR appointment/ potential contractor/grantee interactions. I recommend that such training be the focus of COR certification renewal training that is required during the current 2-year recertification period. This may be particularly important training for the inexperienced, first-time CORs who have taken over most of Dr. Monnett’s contracts.
and he goes on to ask some embarrassing questions
Sole-Source Contracts State of Understanding:

o I am unclear what I can share in a proposed sole-source contract. Obviously we need to find out whether the proposed sole-source “contractor” is interested and available before it makes sense to try to establish the Solicitation. FAR 15.201 encourages contact and exchange with interested parties until the solicitation is issued; at which time, further exchange of information must start going through the CO. Once the decision to solesource has made past the FedBiz notification period without comment, the language in FAR 15.201 suggests sharing of draft RFPs, one-on-one meetings, etc. with the one potential Offeror (see FAR 15.201(c)) is appropriate and encouraged. The language in FAR15.201 suggests that discussion of a presolicitation draft proposal based on a draft RFP could be appropriate in a sole-source contract for agency “participants in the acquisition process.” However, if the COR participates in any of these presolicitation, encouraged contacts and exchanges and then as usual serves as the TPEC Chair for the subsequent proposal, has the COR, in OIG words “reviewed a Proposal as …the government official responsible for protecting the government’s interest, that you helped draft?” Detailed training should be provided on the application of FAR 15.201 in sole-source procurement.
with several further examples
o I am unclear what I can share in a proposed cooperative agreement. We can have
competitive contracting or a sole-source co-op. Obviously, for the latter, we need to find out whether the co-op “contractor” is interested and available before it makes sense to try to establish the co-op. In either case, the meaningful participation role of the PO in the co-op has to be established before the Proposal can be approved. The TPEC-chair PO then reviews the revised proposal and in OIG words “reviewed a Proposal as …the government official responsible for protecting the government’s interest, that you helped draft.” Training should clarify why this help in preparing Proposals and then reviewing them is okay for co-op proposals.
The bunnies should remember that the Derocher proposal started as a coop agreement.
o The CMI Program Announcement suggests that “Proposals for topics that may be highly relevant…should be discussed with the CMI Director and BOEMRE contracts in advance of proposal development.” The BOEMRE contact is the PO and in the language of the OIG the PO would have “assisted…in preparing…Proposal.” The PO manages the review of the initial submitted Proposal. Authors of proposals which make it through the subsequent Technical Steering Committee review are told to contact the PO to discuss changes the PO wants in the proposal, including providing a meaningful participation role of the PO in the project. The PO then reviews the revised proposal and has in OIG words “reviewed a Proposal as …the government official responsible for protecting the government’s interest, that you helped draft.” Training should clarify why this help in preparing proposals and then reviewing them is okay for CMI proposals.
The snark light is lit. Smoke em'.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

do I sole-source the cutting of the lawn by doing it myself, or should I ask all the neigborhs to do it first? in doing this there are competing benefits of a cut lawn against bickering about whose turn it is, me having a sore back and everything

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

Fired Monnett for creating an incestuous peer review environment and for shoddy work. Continue defending bums Eli and wonder why you can't get your precious carbon tax. The good doctor chuckles to himself.

Anonymous said...

Jay Cadbury, phd again....

So what does that "phd" really stand for?

1) Piled Higher and Deeper (the old standby)

2) Post Hole Digger (I was presented with one of these when I was 12)

3) Pizza Home Delivery

4) ???

dhogaza said...

Cadbury's just a cad:

"Fired Monnett for creating an incestuous peer review environment and for shoddy work."

He was never fired, dipshit, and has been reinstated.

"There is a letter on the PEER site from another contracting officer's technical representative who is [snark] asking for additional training."

This person is my hero ... what a clever way of attacking those who've attacked monnett without making himself a target of the current witch hunt. PEER will run with that, and if the person's not a PEER member already, odds are high a membership check is in the mail!

Anonymous said...

Cadbury is also one of those who failed to read the acknowledgments of the polar bear paper. The one in which he thanks all kind of people (including his wife and Derocher), AS WELL AS THE THREE ANONYMOUS REVIEWERS.

Quite the "incestuous" peer review, to have your paper first commented on by experts in the area BEFORE you submit it to a journal, which then has another three people commenting on it.

Jay probably never had anyone read his papers, and that's how he got his degree.

Marco

Anonymous said...

Snow Bunny says,

Obviously, you should only sole-source to people you never heard of.

Anonymous said...

Steve Carr in comments on the Monnett investigation at a NPR piece:

"This is a witch hunt, absolutely typical of administrators who think paying for science is like buying pipe.

Here's how it works. An agency wants new data on polar bears. They'll pay for it under an existing program, with particular requirements as to demonstrated expertise, methods, track record, etc. A call goes out. A particular lab group says, We can do that for $X, and writes up a proposal. A draft goes to the agency for review. Tom, having read Bill's past scientific work, writes back to the bidder, Looks good, Bill, I think you need to increase your sample size per site, and justify why the more expensive radio collars are needed. Bidder re-writes the proposal ("Thanks Tom"), agency provides the contract, the data are collected, published, applied to the management problem, and we have better information on polar movements in open water.

In the next office, someone wants 1000 yds of PVC pipe for privys. Tender goes out, everybody bids, lowest guy gets it.

Now an administrator decides data are like pipe: Tom and Bill must be in cahoots cuz of the back and forth. Tom caused us distress before, publishing a paper with a conclusion against our official line. We'll get him back into line by attacking process, not results."

Facts not an exact match on contracting method, and apparent motivation for starting the whole episode, but a useful analogy worthy of the bunnies, I though.

WhiteBeard

Anonymous said...

Marco,

What institutions are now awarding Puffing Held Dear’s? Do they have a residency requirement, or can you just give the credit card info?

WhiteBeard

J Bowers said...

If I were American, I'd be most concerned by how the IG's office appears to have been staffed with numerous cretins.

Scrooge said...

Well let this be a lesson to anyone that cares about their job and tries to save their employer money by an agreement to piggyback on another project. I don't see anywhere I would have done something different in his shoes except maybe play cya a bit more with memos and cc of e-mails.

Anonymous said...

By asking Deroche (and his wife) to read the paper, didn't Monnett eliminate them from the peer panel pool?

He ensured a peer review process that could not be questioned. How prescient.

John McManus

GregH said...

@McManus Even if the journal editor chose not to use as referrees anyone listed in the acknowledgement section of Monnett's paper, how does that ensure a peer review process that could not be questioned?

chek said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd. said: "Fired Monnett for creating an incestuous peer review environment and for shoddy work".

With that demonstrated grasp of plain English comprehension, I'd suggest the good doctor didn't even make college. And it's most likely 'paper hanger, decorator' (cheap rates).

Anonymous said...

So, after the "look, a crow !" defence, our Cadbury tries now the blunt lie to divert attention.
Next time, the Chewbacca defence ?

Bratisla

Anonymous said...

Greg:

See the Cadbury bleat above about incest. Noone ( and by that I mean a real person not a nom de plume) could possibly assert such nonsense . The editor didn't pick the most obvious reviewer as Monnett ensured this wouldn't happen. Quite wise in retrospect. After vall when a bear is biting your ass you have every reason to be scared of bears. Monnett knew the wig bigs hated him and was careful.

Smarter than the average bear eh BOO BOO?

John McManus

David B. Benson said...

Cadbury easy to understand --- he keys on the insane asylum computer when its available. This also explains his "phd".

Anonymous said...

Ah, but when the IG turned its light on BOEMRE management, a hard drive got wiped...hmm...

Marion Delgado said...

Seriously, no one should bother with Cadbury/Shooshmon. ever. even once. It's a big "do not." It's like feeding Gremlins after dark and getting them wet.

chek said...

"when the IG turned its light on BOEMRE management, a hard drive got wiped...hmm."

This really needs to be clarified, as 'wiped' is a specific action involving rewriting and overwriting each data sector seven or more times in order to make the previous contents unrecoverable.

A drive may be physically trashed, or the drive's control electronics may be fried, or it may have been 'accidentally' re-formatted, or everything on it 'accidentally' deleted. But none of those make the data beyond recovery. Whereas 'wiped' deliberately does.

The only time a government computer drive would be 'wiped', at least here in the U.K., would be if it was being disposed of - and even then there have been quite a few tales in the press of second hand machines and their data ending up in unauthorised hands when someone forgot to wipe the drives.

J Bowers said...

I believe this is actually related and on-topic:

US eco-activist Tim DeChristopher speaks out from prison

Sou said...

As a consultant mainly to government and not for profits, I refuse to bid for a tender that does not allow me to discuss with the potential client their needs - before submitting the proposal. This is based on experience. If I misunderstand the requirements or am not able to tailor the proposal to meet the client's needs, then even if I win the work there is the chance there will be hiccups, cost over-runs etc that make the whole exercise just not worthwhile.

I have never heard of a sole source contract where the client and contractor do not sit down to negotiate what is required in advance of the proposal. It just does not make sense. The cost involved in preparing a brief or tender as well as the cost involved in preparing a proposal or quote means that this pre-commissioning interchange is essential.

This is such an obvious witch hunt that I'm amazed it's not getting more attention from 'higher ups' somewhere.

EliRabett said...

Yes, Eli missed that it was a hard drive, having recently in the midst of preparing a proposal lost a 16 G flash memory. . .

Anonymous said...

Sou,

The hassle is that Monnett then acted as the Contracting Officer’s Tech Rep (or some other acronym in the Fed’s procurement manual) during the actual contract award process.

---

From the start, it seemed to me there were 2 potential sources for the original complaint that is the genesis of this whole “performance”. One would be from the politicized realm of talking points in the US. The other would be internal to BOEMRE, and, less clearly perhaps, to the Alaska Region Office.

Near the end of the Feb questioning transcript, Monnett is rather blunt.

WhiteBeard

Anonymous said...

Everyone here “gets it” - but + points to Sou and White Beard for articulating it clearly and simply.

Opps, forgot about the snark light…

“The IG couldn’t find the source of the smell if its bowels were evacuating from it.”

J. Bowers had a point.

arch (stanton)

Holly Stick said...

Starving polar bear?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2031711/The-bear-dared-Awesome-polar-animal-scales-300ft-cliff-bid-picnic-VERY-surprised-birds.html

ligne said...

this systems administration bunny would like to note that chek is almost (but not quite) correct.

it used to be be necessary to wipe drives over and over to securely erase data, but this is no longer the case. in fact, with the data-densities in current drives, it's often hard enough to read back the data that little paws just wrote there. some flash disks, on the other paw, can be really hard to wipe securely.

while it's quite common to wipe drives when disposing or reassigning them to other users, the timing of this does sound remarkably convenient.

J Bowers said...

Wednesday at the Inspector General's office:

Agent #1: Have you seen these photos of a polar bear on a cliff?!
Agent #2: Cool. Is that one polar bear in the photos... ummm... I mean, the same bear?
Agent #1: I think so.
Agent #2: It's not... umm... a different bear in each photo?
Agent #1: Well... umm... I'm pretty sure it's the same one.
Agent #2: How can you tell? I mean, it looks a bit fuzzy to me.
Agent #1: Yeah, I guess you could be right... like it's... I mean... ummm... possible (laughter) that it could be a man in a suit. This is a military area, right? A Russian military zone.
Agent #2: Can you see a zip?
Agent #3: Velcro? That head doesn't look real to me, and I've never seen pictures of a polar bear scaling a cliff.
Agent #1: Well, at least it's not a different bear in each photo. That's a lot of unnecessary paperwork... sheesh!

J Bowers said...

A reminder of the precursor to BOEMRE, the Minerals Management Service, as told by the New York Times.

"Many of those flaws remain, according to William K. Reilly, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator who was one of two chairmen of the commission. He said last week that Mr. Bromwich was doing a creditable job, but that the agency still lacked the technical expertise needed to oversee such a specialized industry. “They changed the name, but all the people are the same,” Mr. Reilly said. “It’s embarrassing.”
[...]
While defending the employees of the agency, Mr. Bromwich, who took over last June, made no excuses for its past misbehavior, including a scandal at the Denver office that involved agency officials and oil company employees having sex and sharing drugs. "


That's the kind of crowd Monnett's possibly up against.

Anonymous said...

If the polar( no such thing; they are just white fluffl balls of plasma on old Kodak film) bear is hungry we should send it a bunch of Cadbury nut bars.

John McManus

chek said...

Without wishing to contradict br'er ligne for the sake of it, I would point out that 'irreplaceable' deleted files (holiday photos most recently) can easily be recovered even from 3.5 inch 2TB drives using free software (Easeus - much less clunky than Winhex).

Just to prevent any possible embarrassment in case any bunnies might be thinking of donating a surplus Windows PC to their local church's Mother's Union secretary for example, with the 'gentlemen's entertainment' folder deleted simply by emptying the recycle bin, you understand.

And in passing, hat's off to Jim Hansen for putting himself in the line of fire again in standing up for his principles.

EliRabett said...

chek, bunnies are ALWAYS cute

thingsbreak said...

http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=3d9eb24c-eb66-468d-b5af-14e0a8d69b76

ligne said...

good soldier chek, you are indeed correct that deleted files can be trivially recovered. i had taken "wiped" to mean just that -- overwriting the disk at a block level. after which the data is to all intents and purposes irretrievable.

(the distinction is analogous to turning your documents into confetti before sticking them in the bin-lorry.)