As soldiers continue to fight for justice for the often-wrongful prosecution under the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) they still will ultimately meet their demise when up against the US Army’s debarment board.
With the increase of media attention on government Every year Congress receives reports from each agency (e.g.. Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency etc.) regarding their debarment procedures. A federal debarment is essentially a non-judicial process in which a small panel (can consist of 1-2 people) reviews the behavior of an individual or entity after being pursued by either the agency’s inspector general or investigative authorities such as CID. The debarment typically lasts for three years and keeps that person or entity from engaging in any government contracts.
While this may seem insignificant if that individual does not actively engage in government contracts it is actually quite damaging. Debarment prohibits the individual from participating in a government contract as a person, an entity or even as a lead representative of an entity. It also prohibits them from being federally insured or even applying for a small business loan. An individual’s credit rating is affected; debarred individuals cannot work in an organization that receives government funding (such as a hospital or university); a home loan is all but out of the question. This punishment is imposed without any type of judicial process and is carried out at the discretion of the debarment board. Furthermore, the legal fees associated with fighting a proposed debarment are immense, with specialized attorneys running $800-1000/hr.
To make matters worse, each agency’s ability to manage their contracts are determined by the quantity of debarments they hand out each year. The more debarments an agency hands out, the more Congress believes they are managing their contracts properly and are more likely to give them more money the following fiscal year. In short, the agency is incentivized by Congress to debar as many people as possible. However, there are a few things that keep them from debarring a company. If one agency debars a company, that company or individual is banned from participating in ALL government contracts. Therefore, if IBM or a similar sized company is debarred it could create damaging effects on other agencies that may wish to do business with those companies. In turn, agencies are less likely to debar a large corporation than a small business or individual. So, the more in bed you are with the government, the more protected you become.
On top of the incentive to debar individuals, investigators are also incentivized to punish soldiers and or contractors. Investigative agents from CID or the Office of the Inspector General essentially receive kudos based on how many convictions, whether criminal or through the debarment process, they process. Their performance evaluations are based on numbers, not justice. This creates an environment in which investigators look for reasons why someone might be guilty and often pin them with a crime and then manipulate evidence so it matches their charges. In the case of the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) the majority of the CID agents are reserve soldiers or civilian personnel being paid for the sole purpose of conducting investigations. Once they are unable to bring indictments or charges they will lose their jobs.
Because the US Army has been put in the limelight with their mismanagement of the G-RAP program they are now under Congressional pressure to punish a large volume of individuals to show they are doing something about the mismanagement of the government contract. Because Docupak is a large corporation, the US Army has omitted them from any debarment or punitive action. Instead, they are shifting blame to the soldiers. Since the US Army controls the debarment process and the fate of the soldiers are based on the decisions of the US Army’s Debarment Board they can essentially punish them without any sort of actual judicial process. Even those who are acquitted in the court system are still subject to punishment by the US Army, without any form of due process.
In reality Docupak should be in the crosshairs for debarment. The Army’s own Audit Report states how they grossly mismanaged the contract as well as a number of guidelines and laws that were broken through the procurement and management of the program. In addition, LTC Hensen, the contracting officer who granted the contract to Docupak, left the Guard to work for Docupak, a practice that is illegal unless very strict guidelines are followed. Further, through all of this the generals, who implemented a program that was against the Anti Deficiency Act, that paid out bounties to soldiers, which is illegal, that created a confusing environment in which soldiers were subject to violating guidelines, have yet to be punished in any way shape or form. Instead, they are laying the blame on the soldiers in an effort to shift blame to others.