Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Polar Bear Follies

NPR has a copy of a letter sent by the Department of Interior IG to Charles Monnett and it's pretty much what Eli figured, find something in the contracting

The polar bear researcher who was suspended from his government job last month has received a new letter from investigators that lays out actions he took that are described as being "highly inappropriate" under the rules that apply to managing federal contracts.

According to the letter, wildlife biologist Charles Monnett told investigators that he assisted a scientist in preparing that scientist's proposal for a government contract. Monnett then served as chairman of a committee that reviewed that proposal.

A lawyer with a group that is assisting Monnett says that what he did was standard practice at Monnett's office, that no other groups were competing for that sole-source contract, and that this letter "confirms our view that they are really on a witch hunt, trying to get Dr. Monnett."

MT has the best cartoon of this entire charade

Eli is seriously wondering about the "investigator", one Eric May, who appears to be on a jihad.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eric May....

Is that the Inspector Clouseau wannabe who was hopelessly confused about some elementary-school math bits???

Pinko Punko said...

Oh great, everyone in the world is dead if sole-sourcing information means witch hunt. Hey world, you wanted to buy a PCR machine from Bio-Rad and not ABI, and it was over the 5K limit? I hope the BR rep didn't give you the language to use in your sole-sourcing document.

Jeezus H Crimeroo.

Steve Bloom said...

The NPR story is not clear what "such actions" refer to. Presumably not to the sole-sourcing itself, which the CO couldn't possibly have been ignorant of, so presumably either the UA proposal review or the solicitation of Derocher to review the paper (or perhaps both). But regarding those, the use of the term "inappropriate" strikes me as an admission that there's no on-point rule violation. Queries:

Is there a copy of the letter posted somewhere?

Where are the rules?

Are the rules written to allow sanctions to be imposed for "inappropriateness" short of an actual violation?

Steve Bloom said...

And oh yes:

Where the hell is John Holdren?

Martin Vermeer said...

> the solicitation of Derocher to review the paper

Steve, this was an informal review. Something you would ask the guy in the next cubicle to do for you. The journal used their own reviewers. This meme is spreading and it's a lie (and yes I mean you, coyote)

Doug said...

Folks familiar with the climate change controversy are aware that mentions of "Al Gore" are diagnostic of a political approach in the same way that sucking mouthparts identify Hemiptera such as assassin bugs.

Monnett's tormentors are easily classified by reading this transcript:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/29/transcript-jeffrey-gleason?intcmp=239

b5230294-91bd-11e0-a606-000bcdcb5194 said...

The entire polar bear affair is under investigation; the contracting, the peer review, the scientific method. There appears to be a variety of smells emanating from this closed system.

wottsupwiththat.com said...

"b5230294-91bd-11e0-a606-000bcdcb5194", I'm more interested in the smells emanating from your brain.

Any specific accusations to make, or is this just innuendo?

dhogaza said...

Wottsup, apparently "b5230294-91bd-11e0-a606-000bcdcb5194" wants to outlaw the stinky scientific method. Presumably in the future we'll advance knowledge via the reading of non-stinky goat entrails.

Anonymous said...

I kind of hope that Monnett goes down and that they use the same criterion to eliminate 99.999999% of Defense Department contractors. I'll be the only one left to build the next strategic bomber, and I'll be rich beyond my wildest dreams! Cost overruns! Dental! Junkets!

Jeffrey Davis

Anonymous said...

Its time to investigate the investigation:

The Secretary of Interior needs to call this investigation team in, and then fully disclose what the charges are, who made the claims of malfeasance, what the original claims of malfeasance were, and what claims have been found erroneous and/or politically motivated. I think there are a bunch of rotten apples in the Department of Interior, and it is important to expose them.

Paul K2

Steve Bloom said...

I know, Martin. The question is whether there's some sort of reg pertaining to it, notwithstanding the informality.

davey said...

I haven't been following the Monnett story at all but I do know that, no matter what the outcome, the earth is warming, that warming is because human activities are adding CO2 and other radiatively active trace gases to the atmosphere, the warming of the atmosphere in response to the increased concentrations of those gases will be very quick compared to natural warmings, and that fast rate of warming will have vast, deleterious consequences on ecosystems and the human environment the world over.

J Bowers said...

Paul K2 -- "I think there are a bunch of rotten apples in the Department of Interior, and it is important to expose them."

US government department criticised for failing to collect oil revenues

Spooky.

David B. Benson said...

Yes, where is John Holdren.

Indeed, where is Secretary Salazar?

Martin Vermeer said...

Steve, sure. What kind of reg? Isn't it enough that they need their superiors' permission to publish, to issue a press release on their publication, and to talk with journalists about it? Do they also need permission now to show manuscripts to their wives? Sheesh, this is researchers we're talking about, not secret service undercover agents!

I fully expect the advocates of more openness in science, in their usual consistency, to have absolutely no problem with this...

Anonymous said...

J Bowers: The Guardian article is right on the money; and I do mean money, and lots of it.

Take this not so subtle hint from a long term employee of a major oil company, who has significant experience designing, building, operating and optimizing offshore oill and gas facilities; and who was personally involved in managing a group of people responsible for monitoring metering and allocation of produced oil and gas including royalties, and ...

Well, lets just say the Guardian article is right on the money.

Paul K2

Anonymous said...

sent in the foia requests!

David B. Benson said...

From where did Eric May graduate?

[Word verification opinines "shinglen", but I doubt that.]

Anonymous said...

Couple of bits to add. Derocher has made videos for Polar Bear International that explicitly call for political action.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axRX9_UyUOc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j-6XEad-AU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNYpVb9drao

And on Copenhagen with York of WWF.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kItWp8x3ptM

He also seems to have brought money to the study. When I looked at the link below in late July I thought ~$700,000 was listed, and Monnett not Mary Cody was definitely the BOEMRE contact.

Derocher has been collaring and tracking bears for many years. From the info material on the specific study that is now at the center of things, “Approximately 200 polar bears are already expected to be captured in the Canadian Beaufort Region each year for the next 4 years.” (Likely dated from 2005 when the BOEMRE study was initiated.)

http://alaska.boemre.gov/ess/ongoingStudies/PS_0502.pdf

BOEMRE projects.

http://alaska.boemre.gov/ess/ongoingStudies/Ongoing_studies.pdf

It was reported about 2 weeks ago that the Department of Justice in not interested.

WhiteBeard

J Bowers said...

Pat Michaels in Forbes on the subject, back in July, where he repeats the lie that polar bear numbers are on the increase: Drowning Polar Bears And the Return Of Ursus Bogus.

For reference with regard to the claims of scientificus bogus:
* Aars et al (2008)
* Amstrup et al (2009)
* Hunter et al (2010)

Deech56 said...

Unfortunately, it looks like Monnett made mistakes in the procurement process. A Program Officer can give advice to a potential grantee, but not a potential Contract Offeror. He made a mistake in not keeping the CO in the loop, and if "everybody did it," then he should have some evidence from his supervisor that what he was doing was OK.

What the scientific world sees as collegiality may be seen by the outside world as cronyism, and the federal procurement process is designed to assure the taxpayers that money is distributed properly.

A Project Officer really needs to work closely with the Contracting Officer, especially when a sole-source contract is being considered.

J Bowers said...

Deech, none of that explains May making a big deal about the clarity of the photos of the polar bears during interview, nor of the polar bear note's maths.

Scrooge said...

From what I've read about it so far I don't see where he did anything drastically wrong if it is a sole source contract. The govmt is very strict when it comes to contracts and what I remember is even if you went to lunch with a contractor you had to pay for your own out of your pocket. Politicians think that if contractors would pay for lunch that would mean less they have to put in the politicians pockets. The govmt is like scrooge when it comes to spending money. He could get in trouble just for appearing to do something wrong. An IG investigation by itself is not newsworthy but I guess anything dealing with scientists is now considered high profile. The IG is typically very thorough so I expect we will hear more.

Steve Bloom said...

Deech, what's the chapter and verse on that?

Also, as White Beard alluded to, there was a very unusual circumstance pertaining to this contract, which is that it was jointly funded by the Canadian government. It sounds as if both parties understood from the get-go who was going to get the contract, which would seem to render the usual concerns about sole-source contracts a little orthogonal to the situation.

Steve Bloom said...

J, what would seem to explain it is the BOEMRE chief's memo, which states that the suspension was for something (now we know it was the contract) that had only come to their attention *recently*, presumably meaning more recently than the start of the investigation. IOW it was a fishing expedition that began at the beginning, i.e. with the polar bear paper. Also, had the contract been the focus at an earlier stage, there would have been no reason to interview the other scientist.

This is looking more and more like a heavy-handed attempt by management to convince Monnett to resign.

Brian said...

The benign explanation for why the IG would be interested in whether the science was solid (something that shouldn't normally be of interest to the IG) is that they're looking for a motive. The idea, I suppose, is that Monnet did favors in order to help get a weak study published. They could investigate this possibility without necessarily believing it, although Monnet being put on leave suggests they really think they've got something.

The malign explanation is that May (or someone above May and giving orders to him) is a mini-Cuccinelli who burrowed in to the IG's office before Jan 2009 to cause trouble, prior to cashing out.

Not sure we know enough to rule out the first explanation. Second one's possible.

Stephen said...

The spin being put on this story by certain "media sources" is unbelievable:
"According to investigators, Monnett's calculations concerning polar bears' rate of survival, however, are flawed because he not only failed to verify that the four dead polar bears he witnessed were the same ones that he saw a week prior, but he also allegedly used faulty percentages in the process. "
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/200371/20110819/global-warming-fraud-iconic-polar-bear-on-melting-ice-cap-a-hoax.htm

Anonymous said...

Curious, but the Alaska Region BOEMRE server seems to be down. I was just trying to get the Canadian agency title (IIR this study was the only one in BOEMRE’s project list that had a Canadian affiliation).

Some caution would be advised, on my Canadian money supposition. I don’t know that for a fact, but that seems to be how things work – funding comes through several agencies, and Monnett’s statement in his February questioning transcript, that he shipped stuff to US Fish and Wildlife because they would do better science, seems to confirm this.

I have a question on the contracting procedural issue that perhaps Deech56 could help with. From memory, almost all BOERME projects that are not done "in house" using agency people seem to be in conjunction with other US Federal agencies, often combing funding. Does that change anything?

Brian, agree. The IG’s May said they had a complaint, and that does have to be investigated. From May’s questioning it’s hard to miss the political angle though. And the timing is a bit weird. Gleason is grilled in January, and Monnett in February with nothing about the study run by Derocher. That project is halted in mid July, the same week as Monnett’s sent home with a gag order. Then, PEER issues a press release charging that BOEMRE’s failed to follow its own procedures for conducting an investigation and suspending Monnett and the media and blogs are involved. BOEMRE restarts the study and is issuing press releases, as is PEER, once or twice a week, and details dribble out.

WhiteBaerd

Anonymous said...

Stephen,

Not even spin. Mostly unadulterated fabrication. Notice the stuffed bear photo with the caption “Grizzly-Polar Bear”.

WhiteBeard

Deech56 said...

Scrooge is on the right track, I think. Steve Bloom, I would have to look up the exact reference. Your instincts regarding how this came about make sense, IMHO (again, I have no specific knowledge).

Whitebeard, money obligated to another US Government agency is covered by Inter-agency Agreements. The FAR does not apply, and the parties are free to develop studies and negotiate terms at any stage.

What's crazy is that the best thing for the government is for it to receive an excellent proposal, so helping a potential Offeror would appear to be the best course of action. The best way to do this, though, is after the initial review. At that time, the reviewers can send comments and instructions through the CO to turn an OK proposal into exactly what the agency wanted. Monnett should have consulted the Contracting Office to help guide him through the minefield.

The truth is that conflict of interest (COI) situations or more likely the appearance of COI happens in a field where people know each other. So you acknowledge that COI may exist, but then find ways to manage the COI - handing major responsibility to someone else, recusing oneself from the review, etc.

So here's what burns up your average bureaucrat - sweating through a working lunch at a site visit (who do I pay, how much, and can someone type out a receipt?) while reading about all the perks that elected officials get - the free trips, recreation, meals paid by companies or lobbyists.

J Bowers said...

Stephen -- The spin being put on this story by certain "media sources" is unbelievable:
[...]
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/200371/20110819/global-warming-fraud-iconic-polar-bear-on-melting-ice-cap-a-hoax.htm"


The original source for that is from NaturalNews.com, which is published by Truth Publishing International. Note some of the websites of theirs, listed at this link, for example:
evilscience.tribe.net
www.freedomofchoiceinhealthcare.ca
www.freedomofchoiceinhealthcare.ca
www.friendsoffreedominternational.org
www.psychologydebunked.com
iowajohnbirchsociety.spaces.live.com

What a network! Grassroots? I don't think so. :)

And a primary source for the Natural News story is... Human Events: More Powerful Conservative Voices.

Listed in their tabs at the top as article writers: Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan.

Wiki on Human Events.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Events

Marion delgado said...

Everyone on scienceblogs, etc. is overthinking this. When you look at BOEM (BOEMRE), think MMS and BP and Deepwater Horizon. Think complete and utter regulatory capture. Like MMS, BOEM sees its only function as assisting resource extractors in getting rich, and in killing off environmental complaints.

This is not rocket science. Someone at an oil company called BOEM, said, get rid of this guy, and they're working on it. It's not complex.

Deech56 said...

Steve Bloom, the chapter and verse is in the FAR, Subpart 15.2, 15.201. The beginning describes presolicitation market research, where contact with potential offerors is allowed and encouraged. There are many ways to do this, but the CO does need to be involved. Once a solicitation has hit the street, contact with potential offerors is limited, and must be through the CO: "After release of the solicitation, the contracting officer must be the focal point of any exchange with potential offerors."

Snapple said...

I think the fox is in the henhouse. After all, an FBI white paper published this spring is smearing Paul Crutzen as a dupe of the Soviets and claiming that nuclear winter is a KGB hoax.

This white paper was published right when Crutzen was leading a pontifical Academy of Sciences conference on melting glaciers. That's probably not an accident.

http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2011/06/higher-education-and-national-security.html

I think they may have had a contractor write this FBI white paper. I know that the contractor CACI does work for the FBI and claims that it can counter disinformation. I know that Cuccinelli's little brother Kris is an "intelligence analyst for CACI, and their father is a lobbyist for the gas industry.

You read what I found out and the other links. The FBI is usually not this dumb. They did great work on the Anthrax Investigation, but this white paper is really shameful disinformation.

The FBI source for their theory on the "KGB hoax" of nuclear winter was a biography about a KGB defector who lived openly in Florida and had expensive cars in his driveway. This guy got mad if you asked him where he got his money.

The FBI seems as dumb as the KGB in this case. They should investigate how this white paper got written.

It is shameful that our FBI should be smearing a Nobel-winner just like the KGB do in Russia.

Just because some KGB defector claims that nuclear winter is a KGB hoax doesn't make it so. And anyway, one of the big sources in the book the FBI based its stupid white paper on is Russell Seitz. See how he is quoted on page 176 of the book. (Search Seitz in the book at Amazon.)

http://www.amazon.com/Comrade-J-Pete-Earley/dp/0399154396#reader_0399154396

I think it is possible that the ideas of Seitz are put in the mouth of the KGB defector to give Seitz's ideas credibility.

None of this is the least bit funny to me.

I am sure if some scientists would look at my post they could explain it all better than I can. I have a background in Russian Studies, but I am not a scientist.

The spy supposedly died after choking on a piece of meat. Or maybe he choked on all those lies he told that are now in an FBI white paper.

Deech56 said...

"Truth Publishing International" Truth = Pravda?

dhogaza said...

Marion delgado:

"This is not rocket science. Someone at an oil company called BOEM, said, get rid of this guy, and they're working on it. It's not complex."

Same shit happened in the USFS during the Old Growth Wars to Forest and District rangers who paid attention to their biologists when setting management priorities, except of course it was timber industry execs and lobbyists making the calls.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the source of the allegation made against Monnett of scientific misconduct is known ?
It is just about possible to re-construct the allegation that the investigator ERIC MAY was trying to put to CM.

It resolves the apparent nonsense of the
"what is 7 of 11% percent?" remark.

The allegation they received most likely said something like :-
-"CM is guilty of promoting climate alarmism by presenting inaccurate figures for the death rate of polar bears from drowning. This is scientific misconduct.
CM reports 7 bears while surveying 11% of the area which is 63 bears. 3 were drowned, equivalent to 27 or less than half of the total.
CM has claimed that the survival rate is 25% when it is over 50%."-

The indications that this is the allegation come from investigator EM's questions about the polar bear figures, which he admits after 1hour and 40min -
JEFF RUCH: Um, but, uh, Agent May indicated to, um, Paul that he was going to lay out what the allegations are, and we haven‟t heard them yet, or perhaps we don‟t understand them from this line of questioning.
"ERIC MAY: Well, the scientif- – well, scientific misconduct, basically, uh, wrong numbers, uh, miscalculations, uh –
JEFF RUCH: Wrong numbers and calculations?
ERIC MAY: Well, what we‟ve been discussing for the last hour.

What they had been discussing for the last hour was how CM had calculated the 25% survival rate. AS a good investigator EM first established what reasons CM had for making the claim under dispute.
It was in the context of how 4 bears swimming and 3 bears drowned was interpreted as part of the total population because they were numbers of 11% of the total area. That is when EM asks-
"seven of what number is 11 percent? Shouldn‟t that be – that‟s 63, correct?"
when challenged by an incredulous CM after further explanation for the origin of 63 EM gives what may be closest to the allegation -
“If seven total bears, four swimming, uh, and three drowned represents 11 percent of the population” –
CHARLES MONNETT: It doesn‟t. 15
ERIC MAY: Okay, and we‟ll – let me, let – “of bears before the storm, then the total number of bears after the storm is 63,” and that‟s where I came up with the sixty –
CHARLES MONNETT: That‟s just stupid. I – did you do that?
ERIC MAY: No.
CHARLES MONNETT: That is stupid.
ERIC MAY: I‟m a, I‟m just – I interview –

Then there is this revealing exchange....

CHARLES MONNETT: It‟s just goofy. And I – and, uh, the 63 number, what‟s the point of that? You know?
ERIC MAY: Wonder what, what they did is seven of what number is, uh, represents 11 percent, and that would – that‟s where the 63 came up.
CHARLES MONNETT: Somebody is deficient in fifth grade math.
ERIC MAY: (Laughing)
CHARLES MONNETT: Seriously. I mean, give me a break.
ERIC MAY: Right, do you have any other questions on –?
LYNN GIBSON: No, no.

It must be a relief for those that want Dr Charles Monnett out that they can negate him with the accusation of inappropriate behavior when involved administrating funding, with the implied smear that some of the $50million he was in charge of may have ....

And yet the depressing thing is that CM does admit a degree of scientific misconduct. The unauthored poster presentation he describes having to prepare against his advice for his managers. Believing the statistical analysis used was hiding possible changes and significant trends in whale migration behavior he did eventually produce the required presentation and remove his name from it. I suspect remove his name was the most he could do and still work, but I wonder if there are any hints in the work of the reservations of the un-named author. Perhaps like the film world scientists could insert a reference to 'Alan Smithee' just to confirm this is a 'required' piece of work with no endorsement by its creator.
-izen-

Anonymous said...

Marion,

Surely could be, but I’m more inclined to an electoral politics origin. Be interesting to see what PEER’s FIO request turns-up.

Deech56,

Thanks for your answer, and an echo of Grypo over at the Texican’s from me. That was my supposition.

I was thinking about the statement in behalf of Monnett by Dinerstein of PEER as reported by Greenfieldboyse at NPR: “Monnett's actions with regard to looking over the scientist's proposal for the contract before its review was the ‘standard practice’ at his office”. The point I was getting at is - how common were jointly funded programs involving different US Federal Agencies, where the specific charge against Monnett doesn’t seem to be applicable, verses those with other entities where “fair bidding” concerns come in? What was standard or common practice?

I can get to BOEMRE’s Biological Studies list again, and it appears there’s quite a few of the later at the Agency. Since Monnett is no longer the listed contact I can’t partition his former management oversight between in house and co-operative projects with entities outside Dept of the Interior. But, it looks like your observation that Monnett has a problem if the Contracting Officer’s statement holds-up is true, and the PEER claim of that’s how things were done is weakened. I can’t really fathom that the Contracting Officer just spent her days clipping her nails.

That’s not to buy an argument that there’s some skullduggery afoot. What’s most plausible to me is Monnett said he’d review Derocher’s paperwork for a funding source that was new to him.

WhiteBeard

David B. Benson said...

Hounding.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Whitebeard,

Your links to the BOEMRE (think MMS) site was instructive. Randomly clicking on interesting study links showed that most of them seemed to be awarded to entities within the US government or to University of Alaska at Fairbanks, so the international nature of the study seems to be novel in terms of the contracts awarded by BOEMRE-AK.

Monnett may well have been following SOP in the office for other US Government or State Government agencies. It would have been nice to see the RFP for the study, if you can dig it up, that would be nice. My suspicion is that it was crafted in such a way as to make sure there would only be one bidder, since admittedly, they were attempting to piggyback on work already being done by Derocher.

As far as the source of the original compliant I have long suspected, as you do, a political source. Specifically I suspect a powerful representative with a (R) after his name who has some control over the DOI budget, but that's just speculation of course.

izen makes some good observations about scientific misconduct -- in this case misconduct required by the MMS because he reached or was reaching conclusions which were inconvenient to their policy mission. Even though MMS has been reorg'ed in the wake of Deepwater Horizon, never doubt that regulatory capture is still the operative norm in the child agencies.

Deech56 said...

WhiteBeard, thanks. A CO will have authority over a number of contracts, and there are tasks throughout the life, pre and post award, of any given contract. The CO is the one who has authority to spend money that is in the government's hands, and the PO/COTR is basically a technical adviser to the CO and is the one who has the expertise to help the CO in her (in this case) work. Because the CO is the one who has the real authority, the PO/COTR must develop a good working relationship with him or her and must understand the various roles.

For this project, a decision was made to do some kind of joint funding. As soon as this was treated as a contract mechanism, certain rules went into effect. What is "standard practice" in the office may very well be out of compliance with the FAR - that happens, and I am sure it will be fixed. "[L]ooking over the scientist's proposal for the contract before its review" is (IMHO) not in compliance with the FAR if this was done after the solicitation hit the street. In fact, this could be a case study in what not to do and may show up in some training materials.

It's really hard to to R&D under a federal contracting mechanism. The FAR was written to cover widgets and fighter planes, and what makes sense from a scientific standpoint may be non-compliant, but the CO can help the PO stay within the regulations.

Guide to acronyms:
PO = Project Officer - the program person before award
COTR = Contracting Officer's Technical Representative - the program person after award
CO = Contracting Officer - has authority to make financial decisions
FAR = Federal Acquisition Regulation

Deech56 said...

*to do R&D

They sure don't teach this stuff in grad school. BTW, to become a COTR, one must complete a 40 hour instruction course and complete 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years; all this besides annual mandatory ethics training, computer security training and whatever else comes down the pike. In our joint this year, it was a course (with exam) in Acquisitions Law. Also, one must learn to speak in acronyms, although it is difficult to stand toe-to-toe with the DoD folks, but if you can say JOFOC with a straight face you're almost there.

And salary freeze and across-the-board cuts make this a not fun time for scientific agencies. Not the best time to be a researcher, either.

Anonymous said...

Snow Bunny says:

I was once on the periphery of the stupidest IG investigation ever. It concerned a minor act that was of tiny cost and the IGs bizarre theory why it was illegal. We heard Dept. of Justice and the agency's lawyers were laughing at the IG. We never heard who kicked off the investigation.

This one is nearly as stupid -- do read the transcripts of the interrogations of Dr. Monnett and Dr. Gleason last February. I can't wait for the sequel, "Dead Polar Bears Trailing Entrails #2". Apparently the PEER lawyers believe nothing significant was uncovered; they're eager to release the transcript.

Who kicked this off? For that matter, who is behind AG Cuccinelli's mad pursuit of Dr. Mann, for work he did in Virginia years ago? Is it a coincidence that both did work quoted (or hyped) by Al Gore?

Anonymous said...

I would like to post on here but am not sure how this works.

Anonymous said...

First page of 2 part posting
This has been an interesting discussion, so if anyone is still monitoring here is some information that you may find interesting:

Monnett and Derocher first met on September , 2003 at a polar bear monitoring workshop being hosted by the USFWS in Anchorage, Alaska. At that time, Monnett became aware that U Alberta and the Canadian Wildlife Service were beginning a massive capture effort of polar bears that offered a unprecedented opportunity to select young animals for collaring to study their dispersive movements. The question of interest was whether the existing politically-based stock designations had any basis in reality. If not that would have profound consequences for interpreting prior attempts at modeling the recovery of the Southern Beaufort Sea population from various oil-spill scenarios.

A draft study profile was created in October 2003, followed by a budget in November that reflected significant cost sharing by the Canadians. This would contradict IG assertions that the study was created to reward Derocher for his favorable review of the 2006 paper. The dead bears were not seen until September, 2004, nearly a year after the original study profile was written. Of course, Derocher was not a peer reviewer for the Journal, as the IG asserted. That should be clear from a reading of the "Acknowledgements" in the published paper. Below are some excerpts from the original October 13th profile. In the introduction:

"The purpose of this study is to create a collaborative study of polar bear dispersal and population structure between University/Government researchers and Native subsistence hunters in villages along the Canadian Beaufort Sea, and adjacent coastlines. It will be complementary with previous and ongoing studies conducted in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Region, but will add new insights because of the emphasis on population genetical mechanisms, particularly dispersal. Approximately 200 polar bears are expected to be captured in the Canadian Beaufort Region, each year for the next 3 years. This study is timed to take advantage of considerable savings in logistics by partnering with that ongoing study."

And the very first method is to:
"1. Develop a partnership between University and Canadian Government polar bear biologists, and Canadian Natives to implement a study of juvenile polar bears using long-lived satellite transmitters for monitoring."

Essentially the same language is published on page 155-6 of the official 2005 Annual Study Plan posted on the BOEMRE website at:

http://alaska.boemre.gov/ess/essp/sp2005.pdf

The type of study was shown as an "Intra-agency" Agreement because when the study was conceived it was expected to be an "agreement" rather than a contract since UA and CWS would provide nearly $1M funds toward the objectives.

See also the Annual Study Plan for 2010 pages 109-110 where essentially the same language continues to be used in the introduction and methods:

http://alaska.boemre.gov/ess/essp/sp2010.pdf

Anonymous said...

Part 2
When it became apparent to the contracting officer that it would be difficult to procure a study with Canadians as an "agreement" the approach was changed to "sole-source", a poor fit for a study that required negotiation of objectives and details about cost-sharing so that funds could be requested through the study planning system at MMS.

A sole-source justification was drafted in late-December, 2003. On December 20, the CO directed Monnett to forward the Statement of Work to Derocher so that he could get started on his proposal as there was a hope to get the study in the field that spring. In a memo dated December 21, the Chief Scientist of MMS also directed Monnett to forward the SOW to Derocher stating that the CO had informed him that the study did not require publishing in Fed Biz Ops, which is the normal protocol for sole-source procurements. At the beginning of the year, the senior CO retired leaving a vacuum until early March when a junior CO was appointed.

After sending Derocher the proposal, Monnett and Derocher exchanged emails on January 10, 2005. In this message Monnett tells Derocher that when he is "happy" with his draft proposal to forward it and they (CM and AD) can work together to "work out any rough spots". Monnett was thinking of the usual rough spots he sees in drafts of cooperative proposals, issues with spelling out the cooperation and documentation of co-funding. Below is a copy of the January 10th email from Monnett to Derocher:
"Excellent! I was thinking about you this AM. At this end, I am waiting for a HQ reviewer of the SOW to return from holiday so that I can satisfy all the channels. I believe she is back today so things should start to move at our end, shortly. Email the draft to me when you are happy with it and together we can work out any rough spots. You will get the official RFP from the Contracting Officer after everyone is happy with the SOW. Your proposal will respond to that official contact when it occurs. Hope you had a great holiday. cm"
-----Original Message-----
It turned out that a pretty decent draft was finally submitted by Derocher on April 14th. At that time Derocher was struggling with a new requirement to submit the proposal electronically. Monnett responded with the email message below.
"Sorry to take so long to reply...bit distracting around here. I'm headed to Wash DC area for next two weeks but will monitor my email and try to move your proposal along when I see it. What you have seems on target. The most important thing is that objectives and methodology conform to the statement of work, and that seems to be the case. Put in what details you can and if we have further questions we won't be shy. Hope the bureaucracy doesn't get you down. You or your bean counters should get back to the MMS Contracting Officer if you have questions on that side."
This is apparently the evidence the IG has that Monnett helped "draft" the Derocher proposal:
When the new CO came onboard in early March, the new regime approached the procurement much more conservatively and a Fed Biz Ops Notice was developed. A new senior CO took over who eventually signed the award, but she was not involved in the details of the procurement. That senior CO was who the IG interviewed. No surprise she had no knowledge of what had actually taken place.

hardycross said...

The 4-dead polar bear paper bears no resemblance to the scope of work. Why is that?

Turboblocke said...

The polar bear note was the result of observations during a different project. It has nothing to do with the Derocher joint project.

Turboblocke said...

Has Hardycross just presented us with a preview of the next "climate sceptic" spin that's going to be put on the Monnett case?

Anonymous said...

Anon,

Where did you get your info from?

barry.

cRR said...

Fascismo-capitalism, it 's real. Apparently the polar bear is in real danger we don't know of yet - why go to so many pains to lambast someone who once upon a time noted a bear drowning?

Shea said...

"Truth Publishing International" Truth = Pravda?