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Old 03-18-2007, 02:10 PM
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Default Update!----walter Reed Scandal

Walter Reed privatization deal delayed

By DONNA BORAK, Business Writer
March 16, 2007



WASHINGTON
- An Army contract to privatize maintenance at Walter Reed Medical Center was delayed more than three years amid bureaucratic bickering and legal squabbles that led to staff shortages and a hospital in disarray just as the number of severely wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan was rising rapidly.

Documents from the investigative and auditing arm of Congress map a trail of bid, rebid, protests and appeals between 2003, when Walter Reed was first selected for outsourcing, and 2006, when a five-year, $120 million contract was finally awarded.

The disputes involved hospital management, the Pentagon, Congress and IAP Worldwide Services Inc., a company with powerful political connections and the only private bidder to handle maintenance, security, public works and management of military personnel.

While medical care was not directly affected, needed repairs went undone as the staff shrank from almost 300 to less than 50 in the last year and hospital officials were unable to find enough skilled replacements.

An investigative series by The Washington Post last month sparked a furor on Capitol Hill after it detailed subpar conditions at the 98-year-old hospital in northwest Washington and substandard services for patients. Three top-ranking military officials, including the secretary of the Army, were ousted in part for what critics said was the Pentagon's mismanaged effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency at the Army's premier military hospital while the nation was at war.

IAP is owned by a New York hedge fund whose board is chaired by former Treasury Secretary John Snow, and it is led by former executives of Kellogg, Brown and Root, the subsidiary spun off by Texas-based Halliburton Inc., the oil services firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney. (What a surprise!-----Gimp )

IAP finally got the job in November 2006, but further delays caused by the Army and Congress delayed work until Feb. 4, two weeks before the Post series and two years after the number of patients at the hospital hit a record 900 .

"The Army unfortunately did not devote sufficient resources to the upfront planning part of this, and when you do that, you suffer every step of the way," said Paul Denett, administrator for federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, the White House unit that prepares the president's budget and oversees government contracts.

The contract includes management of Building 18, which houses soldiers with minor injuries and was highlighted in the Post series as symptomatic of substandard conditions: black mold on the walls of patient rooms, rodent and cockroach infestation, and shoddy mattresses.

Those 54 rooms are now vacant. Interior work cannot be started until a badly damaged roof is repaired, and that will need another contract because it's not covered in the IAP contract, Walter Reed officials said.

"These rooms are exactly as they were left," Sgt. Gary Rhett, manager of Building 18, said Thursday. "No changes have been made."

The Army has confirmed the timing of the contract delays but declined several requests for comment on why the protest and appeal process took so long, even as more and more injured soldiers were arriving.


The trail goes back to the beginning of the Bush administration. The Army began studying the cost benefits of privatization in 2001.


When President Bush took office, he mandated the competitive outsourcing of 425,000 federal jobs. At the time, the Pentagon was aggressively pushing for increased outsourcing, and in June 2003, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate committee he was considering outsourcing up to 320,000 nonmilitary support jobs.


That's the same year that the Army asked for bids on Walter Reed and, coincidentally, the same year the United States invaded Iraq.

One company responded: Johnson Controls World Services Inc., which would be acquired by IAP in March 2005. It initially bid $132 million, but it and Walter Reed's then-management agreed that the Army was underestimating the cost.

By September 2004, the Army had decided it would be cheaper to continue with current management, which said it could do the work for $124.5 million. Johnson Controls filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office.

The protest was dismissed in June 2005, but the Army agreed to reopen bidding three months later to include additional costs for services. In January 2006, after two rounds of protests by IAP and two appeals by Walter Reed employees to the U.S. Army Medical Command, IAP was named the winner, according to Steve Sanderson, a Walter Reed spokesman.

Instead, in an unusual turn of events, the contract wasn't awarded for another 11 months, the GAO said. Walter Reed officials blame several factors, including an additional protest to the GAO filed by Deputy Garrison Commander Alan D. King, a separate appeal to the U.S. Army Medical Command by Walter Reed's public works director, at least one intervention by Congress, and delays on required congressional notifications about government employee dismissals.

IAP spokeswoman Arlene Mellinger said "it was up to the Army to decide when to begin that contract." The company was ready to start at any time, she added.

In August 2006, Congressional lawmakers asked then-Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey to hold off on the contract until Congress finished work on the fiscal 2007 defense appropriations bill. Congress approved that bill Sept. 29. (same budget by the then republican majority congress that was $3.4 billion SHORT on the VA budget!---Gimp)

The Army's plan then was to eliminate 360 federal jobs at Walter Reed in November and turn the work over to IAP, according to the American Federation of Government Employees, a federal workers' trade union. But the Army failed to notify Congress 45 days in advance, as required by law, so the turnover was delayed until early this year.

Then it was IAP's turn to have problems.

When work finally began at the hospital, IAP made an immediate request, which the Army approved, to hire 87 temporary skilled workers for up to four months "to ease the turbulence caused by employees being placed into positions or other installations and otherwise finding new jobs early," said Sanderson, the Walter Reed official.

However, a "tight" job market in the Washington area meant that only 10 qualified temporary employees were found , he added. Meanwhile, injured soldiers continue to arrive weekly to a short-handed, deteriorated hospital, which the Army still plans to close in 2011.

-----END----


So then, it appears that the "trail" of this terrible turn of events leads DIRECTLY to the WHITEHOUSE, PRESIDENT BUSH and DONALD RUMSFELD . In their unrelentling pursuit to "privatize" the federal government and reward political campaign cronies and former employers!

Like I said before-------------WHAT A SURPRISE!--------Yeah RIGHT
!
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Old 03-18-2007, 02:43 PM
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Default A Chaplain's perspective

I have had enough and am going to give my perspective on the news about Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Please understand that I am speaking for myself and I am responsible for my thoughts alone. The news media and politicians are making it sound like Walter Reed is a terrible place and the staff here has been abusing our brave wounded soldiers; what a bunch of bull!

I am completing my 24th year of service in the Army next month so you decide for yourself if I have the experience to write about this topic. I have been the senior clinical chaplain at Walter Reed for four years and will leave to go back to the infantry this summer. I supervise the chaplain staff inside Walter Reed that cares for the 200 inpatients, the 650+ daily outpatients from the war who come to us for medical care, the 4000+ staff, and over 3000 soldiers and their families that come for clinical appointments daily. Walter Reed has cared for over 5500 wounded from the war. I cannot count the number of sick and non-battle injured that have come through over that timeframe. The staff at this facility has done an incredible job at the largest US military medical center with the worst injured of the war. We have cared for over 400 amputees and their families. I am privileged to serve the wounded, their families, and our staff.

When the news about building 18 broke I was on leave. I was in shock when the news broke. We in the chaplains office in Walter Reed, as well as the majority of people at Walter Reed, did not know anyone was in building 18. I didn't even know we had a building 18. How can that happen? Walter Reed is over 100 acres of 66 buildings on two installations. Building 18 is not on the installation of Walter Reed and was believed to be closed years ago by our department. The fact that some leaders in the medical brigade that is in charge of the outpatients put soldiers in there is terrible. That is why the company commander, first sergeant, and a group of platoon leaders and platoon sergeants were relieved immediately. They failed their soldiers and the Army. The commanding general was later relieved (more about this) and his sergeant major has been told to move on--if he gets to. The brigade sergeant major was relieved and more relief's are sure to come and need to. As any leader knows, if you do not take care of soldiers, lie, and then try to cover it up, you are not worthy of the commission you hold and should be sent packing. I have no issue, and am actually proud, that they did relieve the leaders they found who knew of the terrible conditions some of our outpatients were enduring. The media is making it sound like these conditions are rampant at Walter Reed and nothing could be further from the truth. We need improvements and will now get them. I hate it that it took this to make it happen.

The Army and the media made MG Weightman, our CG, out to be the problem and fired him. This was a great injustice. He was only here for six months, is responsible for military medical care in the 20 Northeast states, wears four "hats" of responsibilities, and relies on his subordinate leaders to know what is happening in their areas of responsibilities. He has a colonel that runs the hospital (my hospital commander), a colonel that runs the medical brigade (where the outpatient wounded are assigned and supposedly cared for), and a colonel that is responsible to run the garrison and installation. What people don't know is that he was making many changes as he became aware of them and had requested money to fix other places on the installation. The Army did not come through until four months after he asked for the money, remember that he was here only six months, which was only days before they relieved him. His leaders responsible for outpatient care did not tell him about conditions in building 18. He has been an incredible leader who really cares about the wounded, their families, and our staff. I cannot say the same about a former commander, who was my first commander here at Walter Reed, and definitely knew about many problems and is in the position to fix them and he did not. MG Weightman also should not be held responsible for the military's unjust and inefficient medical board system and the problems in the VA system. We lost a great leader and passionate man who showed he had the guts to make changes and was doing so when he was made the scapegoat for others.

What I am furious about is that the media is making it sound like all of Walter Reed is like building 18. Nothing could be further from the truth. No system is perfect but the medical staff provides great care in this hospital. What needs to be addressed, and finally will, is the bureaucratic garbage that all soldiers are put through going into medical boards and medical retirements. Congress is finally giving the money that people have asked for at Walter Reed for years to fix places on the installations and address shortcomings. What they don't want you to know is Congress caused many problems by the BRAC process saying they were closing Walter Reed. We cannot keep nor attract all the quality people we need at Walter Reed when they know this place will close in several years and they are not promised a job at the new hospital. Then they did this thing call A76 where they fired many of the workers here for a company of contractors, IAP, to get a contract to provide care outside the hospital proper. The company, which is responsible for maintenance, only hired half the number of people as there were originally assigned to maintenance areas to save money. Walter Reed leadership fought the A76 and BRAC process for years but lost. Congress instituted the BRAC and A76 process; not the leadership of Walter Reed.

What I wish everyone would also hear is that for every horror story we are now hearing about in the media that truly needs to be addressed, you are not hearing about the hundreds of other wounded and injured soldiers who tell a story of great care they received. You are not hearing about the incredibly high morale of our troops and the fact that most of them want to go back, be with their teammates, and finish the job properly. You should be very proud of the wounded troopers we have at Walter Reed. They make me so proud to be in the Army and I will fight to get their story out.

I want you to hear the whole story because our wounded, their families, our Army, and the nation need to know that many in the media and select politicians have an agenda. Forget agendas and make the changes that have been needed for years to fix problems in every military hospital and the VA system. The poor leaders will be identified and sent packing and good riddance to them. I wish the same could be said for the politicians and media personalities who are also responsible but now want it to look like they are very concerned. Where have they been for the last four years? I am ashamed of what they all did and the pain it has caused many to think that everyone is like that. Please know that you are not hearing the whole story. Please know that there are thousands of dedicated soldiers and civilian medical staff caring for your soldiers and their families. When I leave here I will end up deploying. When soldiers in my division have to go to Walter Reed from the battlefield, I know they will get great medical care. I pray that you know the same thing. God bless all our troops and their families wherever they may be. God bless you all,



+Chaplain John L. Kallerson

Senior Chaplain Clinician

Walter Reed Army Medical Center
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"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."
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Old 03-19-2007, 08:00 AM
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Default Re: A Chaplain's perspective

Quote:
Originally posted by SuperScout
I supervise the chaplain staff inside Walter Reed that cares for the 200 inpatients, the 650+ daily outpatients from the war who come to us for medical care, the 4000+ staff, and over 3000 soldiers and their families that come for clinical appointments daily.

Excuse me, but it is without prejudice that I find it incomprehensible that either he or his 'staff' would be totally unaware or out of touch with these "650 dailey outpatients" or the "3000 soldiers and their families" that are involved with or receiving daily treatment? Despite what he says in the following paragraph!----Gimp

When the news about building 18 broke I was on leave. I was in shock when the news broke. We in the chaplains office in Walter Reed, as well as the majority of people at Walter Reed, did not know anyone was in building 18. I didn't even know we had a building 18. How can that happen? Walter Reed is over 100 acres of 66 buildings on two installations. Building 18 is not on the installation of Walter Reed and was believed to be closed years ago by our department. The fact that some leaders in the medical brigade that is in charge of the outpatients put soldiers in there is terrible.

Good question!----Ignorance of your subordinates or peers faliures when it's happening all around you is NO EXCUSE! If HE and his "staff" were responsible for the "care" he espouses, then THEY are as "responsible" for it's failings as are/were those within that other "4,000 staff" he refers to!----Gimp


What I am furious about is that the media is making it sound like all of Walter Reed is like building 18. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No they're NOT!------------the MAJORITY of the "media" as well as former and current patients have gone on public record to state the "in-house', or in-patient treatment and care for our troops at WRAH is without question the best they've seen!----Gimp


What needs to be addressed, and finally will, is the bureaucratic garbage that all soldiers are put through going into medical boards and medical retirements. Congress is finally giving the money that people have asked for at Walter Reed for years to fix places on the installations and address shortcomings. What they don't want you to know is Congress caused many problems by the BRAC process saying they were closing Walter Reed. We cannot keep nor attract all the quality people we need at Walter Reed when they know this place will close in several years and they are not promised a job at the new hospital.


Question?: WHICH Congress "caused many problems" mentioned above?-----And WHICH Congress is NOW "finally giving the money that people have asked for at Walter Reed for years"?????---Just asking---Gimp.


Then they did this thing call A76 where they fired many of the workers here for a company of contractors , IAP, to get a contract to provide care outside the hospital proper. The company , which is responsible for maintenance, only hired half the number of people as there were originally assigned to maintenance areas to save money . Walter Reed leadership fought the A76 and BRAC process for years but lost. Congress instituted the BRAC and A76 process; not the leadership of Walter Reed.

Question?--Once again, WHICH Congress and WHICH administrations "policies" advocating and implementing 'privatization' of these functions which in turn caused this mess to begin with???----Just asking , AGAIN!---Gimp



I want you to hear the whole story because our wounded, their families, our Army, and the nation need to know that many in the media and select politicians have an agenda. Forget agendas and make the changes that have been needed for years to fix problems in every military hospital and the VA system. The poor leaders will be identified and sent packing and good riddance to them. I wish the same could be said for the politicians and media personalities who are also responsible but now want it to look like they are very concerned. Where have they been for the last four years?


My thoughts EXACTLY!-------Gimp



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Old 03-20-2007, 09:19 AM
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There were apparently a lot of folks from the Commanding General on down, that "forgot" about a lot of things at Walter Reed, including the care that our wounded servicemen and women deserved.

Larry
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Old 03-20-2007, 03:08 PM
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It seems

Republicans support the troops and Democrats support the veterans. This is another example of the mind twists required to subscribe to a particular political philosophy. The choices may boil down to whether your prefer to belong to a group that feels morally superior or one that rages against the machine.
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Old 03-21-2007, 12:55 AM
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Pretty screwed up...isn't it Doc. Why I don't subscribe to EITHER anymore. Both parties are letting down regular Americans at a rate never seen in history and I don't know how to fix it. Politics in this country is at the saddest point and I believe will sink lower. In the emergency defense budget, the Democrats have just added tons of Pork, just what they accused the Republicans of doing, and they did, just like they used to do, and they do. I have no party affiliation anymore and doubt I will until I pass.

Pack
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