Category Archives: Public.Safety

Morro Bay drops police outsourcing after public outcry

Source: Lindsey Holden, The Tribune, August 10, 2016

Morro Bay residents on Tuesday night showed strong support for their local police force, speaking out against a plan floated by the city to outsource law enforcement services to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office as a way to save $500,000 a year. City Council members, who were to consider whether to further research contracting out the city’s policing, heard from dozens of constituents who packed Veterans Memorial Hall to praise Morro Bay’s department and the level of service officers provide. … The idea first came about in 2015, when Management Partners, a consulting firm Morro Bay officials hired to provide feedback on how the city could function more efficiently, proposed outsourcing law enforcement to save money. Morro Bay was to take up the issue in 2017, but the Aug. 1 departure of police Chief Amy Christey, and the need to find her replacement, prompted city officials to consider the topic now. … A 10-year budget forecast by Management Partners prompted the city to look into cost-saving measures last year, Buckingham said. Although Morro Bay’s finances are in the black and basic services can be met, he said, the city has about $3 million in unfunded needs, including an annual $1 million shortfall for street repairs and $2 million per year for facility replacements and expanded services. … Prior to the council’s vote, angry residents booed Buckingham when he brought up potential cost-savings during his report. Residents who took to the podium said their quality of life in Morro Bay depends on maintaining local services, such as police, fire and harbor patrol. Ken Vesterfelt presented council members with a petition, signed by 2,200 people, urging the city to keep its police department. …

Watchdog Finds Uneven Assessment of Army Contractors

Source: Neil Gordon, Project on Government Oversight, July 28, 2016

The U.S. Army is not consistently following the rules for evaluating contractor performance, according to a Department of Defense Inspector General (IG) report released on Monday. … The IG reviewed 56 PARs prepared by five Army components on contracts worth a total of $1.5 billion. The IG found 52 of the 56 PARs were incomplete or did not include sufficient written justifications for the performance ratings given. For example, officials rated some contractors as “exceptional” or “very good,” but the IG determined that the written narratives justified a lower “satisfactory” rating. Additionally, 21 of the 56 PARs were not prepared within the required timeframe of 120 days, and the average delay among all five components was 59 days. The average delay at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama was an astonishing 146 days. …

City to outsource crossing guard services

Source: Patterson Irrigator, July 13, 2016

The City Council approved 5-0 an agreement with All City Management Services, Inc. for crossing guard services Tuesday. The total cost for the contracted services for the current year is porjected at $124,886. The city is responsible for half that figure, or about $62,000. The city has historically provided and supervised crossing guard services, splitting the cost 50-50 with the Patterson Joint Unified School District since 1996. … The city-run program runs 10 months out of the year and takes up nearly half of a recreation coordinator’s time, according to a staff report. The report reads: “By contracting out the program, the recreation coordinator could focus on increasing recreation programs, classes and community special events.” The contract is for two years, with the second year’s services showing a $6,000 increase in cost. City Manager Ken Irwin said that staff estimated the city will save about $8,000 in insurance premiums during the period of July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. … All City Management will be in charge of the recruitment, selection, training and and payment of crossing guards. The consultant group will run background checks on potential hires and coordinate back-up employees. All City Management personnel will supervise the crossing guards, and the consultant will provide equipment and visible, easily recognizable uniforms for those crossing guards. Crossing guards will be at city-designated locations on all days that specified Patterson schools are in session. Patterson currently has 12 manned crossing guard locations, and a city staff report notes that there have been requests for additional locations due to safety concerns. …

To pare down school costs, Pottstown votes to privatize crossing guards

Source: Laura Benshoff, NewsWorks, July 12, 2016

This week, Pottstown Borough voted to join Manheim Borough in Lancaster County and Steelton-Highspire School District in Dauphin County in privatizing management of its crossing guard corps. Crossing guard positions are seasonal and part time. They also require morning and afternoon commitments during the school year that bogart more time than other part-time positions, said borough manager Mark Flanders. … In January, an internal borough audit discovered that it was underbilling the Pottstown School District more than $80,000 a year in overhead costs for managing the crossing guards, bumping the estimated cost to pay and manage the staff from $181,000 to $267,000. The school district pays for the service, but the borough is in charge of managing and billing for it. Under the forthcoming one-year contract with All City Management Services, existing crossing guards will keep their jobs and won’t take a pay cut, according to Flanders. The Reading Eagle reported that there are 30 existing crossing guards, while Flanders said the contract will guarantee positions for 25. …

The Shady History Of The Private Security Firm Omar Mateen Worked For

Source: Aviva Shen, Think Progress, June 14, 2016

G4S is currently being thrust into the spotlight because it employed Mateen, but the firm’s murky reputation precedes it. Staffers have been caught beating and abusing detained immigrants, keeping children in solitary confinement, and torturing inmates all over the world. But one particularly dark stain on the company’s record is its brief dalliance with the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, known for its use of torture and suspension of due process. … G4S has a whole other slew of scandals in Florida, where Mateen worked for the firm. The company runs 29 juvenile facilities in the state. A grand jury report on one such prison said it “should cease to exist” because the conditions children were living in were so inhumane. G4S-run prisons are rife with violence and have faced multiple riots. Teenagers live in filthy, dilapidated buildings staffed by undertrained skeleton staffs. Some G4S employees have even been charged with sexual battery and sexual abuse. The grand jury report called the company’s operations “a disgrace to the state of Florida.”

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What Exactly Did the Company Omar Mateen Worked for Do?
Source: Adam Chandler, The Atlantic, June 14, 2016

G4S has an unfathomably broad reach. The largest in its industry, it operates across six continents and in hundreds of countries. Mateen was a low-level employee at G4S, but his company has lucrative contracts with countless clients, including the Department of Homeland Security. … Private security firms not only recruit and train guards for small-scale protection, but also provide security (and cybersecurity) infrastructure, investigative services, and military manpower for governments and large industries. Their employees work in prisons and refugee detention centers, as guards at mining sites, nuclear sites, pop shows, and embassy grounds. They also defend airports in conflict zones and fight alongside militias in unstable developing countries. Not surprisingly, these missions and affiliations open firms up to considerable criticism. GS4, for example, has been denounced in recent years for not training enough security staff for the 2012 London Olympics and for controversial work in Israel and the West Bank, where, according to the Times of Israel, it provided “screening and other services to a number of Israeli organizations, including CCTV cameras installed in Tel Aviv, screening equipment used in the prison system, and security for courts.”

Inconvenience as Opportunity: Meet the Crew Trying to Privatize Airport Security

Source: Michael Arria, AlterNet, June 8, 2016

The TSA is in disarray. That’s the neoliberal cue. ….

The Transportation Security Administration currently employs about 42,000 officers, down by 5,000 since 2013. However, the number of air passengers has risen 15 percent in that time, from 643 million to 740 million, and that number is projected to crack 800 million in 2016.

It seems clear that there’s a natural connection between these statistics and the recent plethora of horror stories regarding massive security checkpoint lines. Many Americans are now beginning to view the TSA as a bloated symbol of government waste and any confidence in it has seemingly eroded. ….

….Issa’s op-ed was praised by Chris Edwards, author of a Cato report on TSA privatization. Edwards referred to Issa’s proposals as “excellent” and identified them as “Cato-style aviation reforms.”

Edwards is certainly correct. His report calls for abolition of the TSA and open competitive bidding from private firms for control of the organization. As for the TSA charge that such an arrangement would actually cost more money, Edwards cites a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure report which found that privatizing the TSA would save money.

The report was released while the chairman of that committee was John Mica, a Republican representative from Florida, who has long been a fierce advocate of transportation privatization…..

Emanuel uses possible privatization of security at airports to leverage TSA

Source: Bill Ruthhart, Chicago Tribune, May 18, 2016

… A group of influential aldermen introduced a resolution Wednesday calling on Emanuel’s administration to apply for the TSA Screening Partnership Program, which would allow City Hall to contract with federally approved private firms to screen passengers and baggage at Chicago airports. The move also would give the city greater flexibility in security assignments, staffing levels and operating hours of staff. … Aldermen Michael Zalewski, 23rd, Danny Solis, 25th, and Margaret Laurino, 39th, joined Burke on the resolution, which is not binding and, if approved, merely would serve as a council recommendation to Emanuel’s Aviation Department. The move represents the latest swing at what has become a low-hanging political pinata. Elected officials are often eager to take a shot at Washington dysfunction, and long lines of angry travelers serves as easy motivation. …

Phoenix councilman supports private screeners at Sky Harbor Airport

Source: Derek Stahl, AZ Family, May 17, 2016

A Phoenix city councilman said he supports the idea of replacing the federal security screeners at Sky Harbor International Airport with private contractors after last week’s baggage debacle. More than 3,000 checked bags missed their flights Thursday because of a glitch with the Transportation Security Administration screening system. … The city’s aviation department said switching to private contractors was one of several options under consideration to improve security processing. … Currently, 22 airports take part in the TSA’s Screening Partnership Program. The program allows airports like San Francisco International and Orlando Sanford International to use screeners from private companies, with oversight from the TSA. … The councilman said he would support a switch to privatized security as long as the program was as safe as federal standards and demonstrated improved efficiency and wait times. … Although an airport can recommend a private screening company, the TSA has the final say on which company is awarded the contract, according to spokesperson Nico Melendez. The TSA also executes the contract with the company, maintains oversight control, and provides the funding, he said. …

Campus insources workers after ongoing plans

Source: Kimberly Nielson, The Daily Californian, May 16, 2016

After seven months of protests by campus employees and students, UC Berkeley finalized plans to insource 69 campus workers from three private contract companies last week. The decision to insource workers was part of the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan, a broader university movement aiming to support campus employees and raise their salaries, campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email. She added that campus officials have coordinated with AFSCME, a labor union representing UC workers, to work out appointment details since March. The campus has offered employment to all formerly contracted night shift and athletic custodians, as well as campus parking attendants contracted through LAZ Parking, according to Gilmore. She also noted that workers from ABM and Performance First were also given priority employment with the university. … Campus officials will also discontinue contracting additional parking or custodial workers for the remainder of the existing service agreement, extending their efforts to remedy “grotesque injustice” endured by contracted workers on campus, according to Stenhouse. …

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Opinion: Union calls for reasonable reform at UC
Source: Katherine Lybarger, President of AFSCME Local 3299, Sacramento Bee, May 8, 2016

As a widening scandal involving misuse of public funds and other ethical breaches by its top brass grips the University of California, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board criticized UC’s largest employee union for advocating greater scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest at UC (“Let’s step back from UC Davis turmoil”; May 1). The board also criticized AFSCME Local 3299 for legislation that would encourage UC elites to stop squandering public funds on private contractors that exploit low-wage workers. There are thousands of contract custodians, landscapers, food service workers and others who do the same full-time jobs as direct UC employees for a fraction of the pay and no benefits. Instead of bringing these workers in-house, UC has fought to ensure its well-connected contractors continue to profit by condemning legions of these workers to lives of poverty and second-class status. … UC has recently told the Legislature that providing livable wages and direct employment to contract workers affected by Senate Bill 959 wouldn’t cost UC a dollar more. In fact, they’ve said it might even save money since $138 million of the $345 million that UC spends on such deals is squandered on overhead and contractor profits. In other words, the editorial board’s assertions about SB 959 simply do not add up. …

Campus sheds light on rationale for insourcing formerly subcontracted workers
Source: Ericka Shin, The Daily Californian, March 30, 2016

The campus already had plans in the works to insource or fill vacant positions for at least 55 custodians prior to the recent agreement, but the March 18 decision has resulted in the campus offering jobs to an additional 14 custodians and 24 parking attendants, according to an email from Mogulof. Among these newly insourced employees are the 69 workers employed by ABM, PerformanceFirst and LAZ Parking who are being officially insourced as UC employees, according to Kristian Kim, a member of the campus’s Student Labor Committee. The agreement also stipulates that the campus will not contract out regularized parking or custodial work through June 30, 2017, Mogulof said in an email.

UC Berkeley Agrees to Hire Subcontracted Workers After Threats of Boycott
Source: Josh Lefler, The Guardian, March 27, 2016

The University of California hires at least 45 different private companies to fill staffing positions across the UC campuses in the areas of custodial work, food services, landscaping, security, parking and more, according to an AFSCME 3299 report. The same report concluded that these workers are paid as little as 53 percent less than workers who are employed directly by the University of California and do not receive the same benefits. The nearly 100 subcontracted workers, who were just recently hired by the university, were described as having “more than 440 years of combined experience working at UC Berkeley,” but were paid below the wage of an official UC employee, according to Stenhouse.

UC Berkeley reaches labor agreement on contract workers
Source: Tom Lochner, Contra Costa Times, March 18, 2016

UC Berkeley, in what one of its unions hailed as a “historic victory for contract workers,” has agreed to offer direct employment to all regular night shift and athletics custodians currently working at the institution through private contractors, the university announced Friday. As part of the agreement, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 will end its “speakers boycott,” the university said. Under the boycott, AFSCME objected to speakers with engagements at the campus. … The union said 93 custodial and parking workers fall under the agreement. The university said it will offer to hire all campus stack parking attendants currently employed through LAZ Parking. …

Subcontracted campus workers insourced as UC employees, ending speakers’ boycott
Source: Adrienne Shih, The Daily Californian, March 18, 2016

After nearly seven months of campaigning, 69 previously subcontracted workers have officially been insourced as UC employees, ending an ongoing campus speakers’ boycott. The workers — employed by ABM, PerformanceFirst and LAZ Parking — were previously a part of the University of California’s two-tier employment policy. The campus employs some individuals directly, or in-house, while others who do temporary or seasonal work are employed as subcontracted workers, receiving reduced pay and fewer benefits than their directly employed counterparts.
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CIA Watchdog Finds Abuses in Use of Independent Contractors

Source: Project on Government Oversight, May 2, 2016

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) broke the law in its use of independent contractors, according to a four-year-old internal review that was declassified and approved for public release in March. The contents of the June 2012 CIA Inspector General (IG) audit report were revealed last week by VICE News reporter Jason Leopold. … The IG found that “a significant number” of independent contractors were being utilized in a manner that made them appear to be government employees, a big no-no under CIA and federal regulation. Additionally, the CIA acquired their services under labor-hour contracts. The IG noted that this type of contract is “least preferred,” because it provides no incentive for cost control and furthers the perception of an employer-employee relationship. …Lastly, the IG determined the CIA was not adequately documenting the reasonableness of the prices paid for independent contractors’ services. As a result, the CIA could be paying independent contractors—many of whom are former CIA employees—more for their services than it should.

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The CIA Illegally Let the Wrong People Do Intelligence Work, Declassified Report Finds
Jason Leopold, Vice News, April 27, 2016

The CIA violated federal laws and its own internal regulations by hiring independent contractors for a wide variety of intelligence and national security-related work that was supposed to be performed by government employees, according to a CIA Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit report obtained by VICE News in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The report said the CIA “relies heavily on independent contractors to accomplish important facets of its mission,” particularly at the National Clandestine Service, the covert arm of the agency responsible for clandestine operations around the world. The report, dated June 22, 2012 but only declassified last month, raised numerous red flags about the CIA’s use of independent contractors throughout all divisions within the agency, and for work performed work in areas that included covert operations and protective security services overseas. By law, that work must be done by CIA employees. … The use of independent contractors by US intelligence agencies exploded after 9/11. At the CIA, the number of contractors working for the agency at one point surpassed the number of actual agency employees. … The OIG report singled out two of the offices within the CIA for using independent contractors to perform tasks that should have been carried out by federal employees — the National Clandestine Service and the CIA’s Human Resources/Recruitment Center. The report said the latter entered into contracts with a redacted number of independent contractors “in part, to conduct phone and in-person interviews of applicants for employment within the [National Clandestine Service’s] Professional Trainee (PT) and Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) Program, which is not in compliance with applicable federal laws” or the CIA’s own internal regulations. Federal law explicitly prohibits “the use of contractors for ‘the selection or non-selection of individuals for federal government employment, including the interviewing of individuals for employment.'”

Civilian Intelligence Community: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Reporting on and Planning for the Use of Contract Personnel
Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-692T, June 18, 2014

From the summary:
Limitations in the intelligence community’s (IC) inventory of contract personnel hinder the ability to determine the extent to which the eight civilian IC elements—the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and six components within the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, State, and the Treasury—use these personnel. The IC Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) conducts an annual inventory of core contract personnel that includes information on the number and costs of these personnel. However, GAO identified a number of limitations in the inventory that collectively limit the comparability, accuracy, and consistency of the information reported by the civilian IC elements as a whole. For example, changes to the definition of core contract personnel limit the comparability of the information over time. In addition, the civilian IC elements used various methods to calculate the number of contract personnel and did not maintain documentation to validate the number of personnel reported for 37 percent of the records GAO reviewed. GAO also found that the civilian IC elements either under- or over-reported the amount of contract obligations by more than 10 percent for approximately one-fifth of the records GAO reviewed. Further, IC CHCO did not fully disclose the effects of such limitations when reporting contract personnel and cost information to Congress, which limits its transparency and usefulness.

The civilian IC elements used core contract personnel to perform a range of functions, such as information technology and program management, and reported in the core contract personnel inventory on the reasons for using these personnel. However, limitations in the information on the number and cost of core contract personnel preclude the information on contractor functions from being used to determine the number of personnel and their costs associated with each function. Further, civilian IC elements reported in the inventory a number of reasons for using core contract personnel, such as the need for unique expertise, but GAO found that 40 percent of the contract records reviewed did not contain evidence to support the reasons reported.

Collectively, CIA, ODNI, and the departments responsible for developing policies to address risks related to contractors for the other six civilian IC elements have made limited progress in developing those policies, and the civilian IC elements have generally not developed strategic workforce plans that address contractor use. Only the Departments of Homeland Security and State have issued policies that generally address all of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s requirements related to contracting for services that could affect the government’s decision-making authority. In addition, IC CHCO requires the elements to conduct strategic workforce planning but does not require the elements to determine the appropriate mix of government and contract personnel. Further, the inventory does not provide insight into the functions performed by contractors, in particular those that could inappropriately influence the government’s control over its decisions. Without complete and accurate information in the inventory on the extent to which contractors are performing specific functions, the elements may be missing an opportunity to leverage the inventory as a tool for conducting strategic workforce planning and for prioritizing contracts that may require increased management attention and oversight.