USDOJ: Government Contractor Indicted for Bribing Public Official at @USAGM

 

Via DOJ:

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment charging a North Carolina man with engaging in a bribery and fraud scheme with a former contracting officer for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) (now known as the U.S. Agency for Global Media).

According to court documents, William F. Snow, 70, of Jamestown, worked for a government contracting firm that previously provided professional staffing services to BBG. Between late 2014 and late 2016, Snow, in addition to a BBG contracting officer and others, allegedly agreed to hire and pay the contracting officer’s relative for a job involving minimal work and which resulted in payments to the relative that totaled more than $68,000. In exchange, the BBG contracting officer took official actions that benefitted Snow, the contracting firm, and another executive, Rita Starliper, who previously pleaded guilty for her involvement in the scheme. In particular, the contracting officer took official action and provided preferential treatment that included the awarding of a professional staffing contract to the contracting firm that was worth millions of dollars and the steering of the procurement process to benefit Snow, Starliper, and the contracting firm.

Snow is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, one count of bribery, and three counts of honest services mail fraud. The defendant will make his initial court appearance on Dec. 28. If convicted, Snow faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, fifteen years in prison for bribery, and twenty years in prison for each count of honest services mail fraud. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber of the Eastern District of Virginia; Special Agent in Charge Elisabeth Kaminsky of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of State; and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of State and the FBI are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi Boutros Gesch of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Litigation Counsel Edward P. Sullivan, and Trial Attorney Jordan Dickson of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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@USAGM: Hostile Work Environment and Sex-Based Discrimination Found

 

Via EEOC Appeal Nos. 2019005498 & 2020003512
Hostile Work Environment and Sex-Based Discrimination Found.
Both Complainants worked as International Broadcasters for the Agency’s International Broadcasting Bureau, Voice of America (VOA).  Complainants filed separate EEO complaints alleging, among other things, that the Agency subjected them to a hostile work environment and discrimination based on sex, including denying them promotions, and modifying their television anchor duties.  At the conclusion of the investigations for both complaints, the Agency issued two separate decisions which both concluded that Complainants failed to prove their claims.  The Commission consolidated the matters on appeal, given that the underlying facts were the same in both complaints.  The Commission determined that Complainants both established a prima facie case of discrimination based on sex because they were replaced by male anchors, and all the recipients of the promotion were males.
The Commission then found that the Agency failed to meet its burden to articulate legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decisions.  Several responsible management officials failed to provide detailed and supported statements regarding the removal of anchor duties and the denial of promotions.  For example, one of the responsible management officials repeatedly provided vague statements that were often not supported by the record, or provided statements that were refuted and/or contradicted by other management officials.  Moreover, when given several opportunities to clarify his statements by the EEO Investigator, the official failed to substantively respond.
The Commission stated that, even if it determined that the Agency’s explanation was sufficient to meet its burden, Complainants still established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Agency’s explanations were pretextual.  The Agency was ordered, among other things, to retroactively promote Complainants with appropriate back pay and benefits, reinstate pertinent television and/or radio duties, investigate Complainants’ claims for compensatory damages, and provide training to the responsible management officials.  Madlyn F. & Lashawn C. v. U.S. Agency for Global Media, EEOC Appeal Nos. 2019005498 & 2020003512 (Feb. 9, 2021).

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Related posts:

Who did @StateDept/BBG pay $9,033,600 for Title VII, Discrimination in Federal Employment?

 

The Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund pays court judgments and compromise settlements of lawsuits against the government. Federal agencies may ask the Bureau of the Fiscal Service to pay from the Judgment Fund for:
  • Most court judgments and Justice Department settlements of actual or imminent litigation against the government
  • Administrative claim awards (settlements by agencies at the administrative level, not involving a lawsuit)
According to Treasury, an agency may only ask for payment from the Judgment Fund if funds are not legally available to pay from the agency’s own appropriations. If another source of funds exists to pay the award, the Judgment Fund cannot be used even if the other source does not have enough money. In that case, the agency with the other source of funds must ask Congress to appropriate more money for that other source.
In most cases, the agency does not have to reimburse the Judgment Fund. However, reimbursement is required when the case comes under either the Contract Disputes Act or the No FEAR Act.
On October 7, 2021, an amount of $9,033,600.00 was sent from the Judgement Fund under Payment ID 062262021. The defendant agency is listed as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG now USAGM) and the State Department. The database does not include the name of the complainant nor the docket number at the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia which is listed as having jurisdiction of this case. It lists the Principal Citation Code as 42-USC-2000e-16 with the Principal Citation Code Description as “Title VII, Discrimination In Federal Employment.”
The Principal Amount is listed as $9,033,600.00.
The database does not indicate if this payment involves a single complainant or multiple ones. Or if a gag order is included as a bonus.
For more information about the Judgement Fund, click here.

Related item:
5 CFR 724 – Implementation of Title II of the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002-Judgment Fund

 

Related posts:

 

 

GAP and VOA Whistleblowers Call For Investigation of Ex-USAGM Chief Michael Pack

13 GoingOn 14: Help Keep the Blog Going For 2021 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

On March 18, Government Accountability Project on behalf of federal whistleblowers called for an investigation of the former head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) Michael Pack who reportedly spent nearly $2 million in federal funds investigating Voice of America employees. Excerpt below:
…On behalf of anonymous whistleblowers, alerted Congress and federal whistleblower agencies to new details about sole source, no bid contracts awarded to two law firms by Michael Pack to investigate the employees at the agency he headed, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). USAGM is the parent agency of Voice of America (VOA). Until ordered to resign by President Biden on Inauguration Day, Mr. Pack—a Trump administration political appointee—was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of USAGM.
[…]
After alerting the Congress and the federal whistleblower agencies (the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) to Mr. Pack’s misconduct, Government Accountability Project used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain additional details about the sole source, no-bid law firm contracts.
GAP provided a link to USAGM materials released via the latter’s FOIA, available here. Government Accountability Project also sent a supplemental analysis to Congress, OSC, and State/OIG.
Cited among its findings:
  • The total value of all services rendered by McGuireWoods and Caplin & Drysdale (billed and unbilled) was approximately $1.776 million.
  • Over four months, McGuireWoods billed approximately $1.625 million in fees and disbursements based on 5,093 billable hours, an average of approximately $320 for each billable hour.
  • The three activities responsible for over 90 percent of McGuireWoods’ billable hours were: “Document Production” (2,998.10 hours); “Analysis/Strategy” (1,053.40 hours); and “Fact Investigation/Development” (655.80 hours).
  • Over four months, Caplin & Drysdale billed approximately $66,000 in fees and disbursements based on 84.4 billable hours, an average of over $780 for each billable hour.
GAP urge the Foreign Affairs and Appropriations Committees in the House and the Senate, State/OIG and the Office of Special Counsel “to specifically investigate the authority invoked and the representations made by Mr. Pack and others in order to pay these law firms, and any other contractors Mr. Pack hired during his brief and controversial tenure.”
The letter is available to read here.


 

 

 

@Transition46 Releases Names of Agency Review Teams For @StateDept, @USAID, @USAGM, and @USUN

The Biden-Harris Transition has released the names of Agency Review Teams for the State Department, USAID (which includes MCC, Peace Crops, IDFC),  the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. A lot of familiar names here. Note that all members are currently listed as “volunteers”. According to Transition46, these are individuals who are volunteering for the Transition in their personal capacity. For these team members, their current or most recent employer is listed (for informational purposes only), and their source of funding is listed as “Volunteer.”
We have added a countdown to Inauguration Day on our right sidebar.

 

Open Technology Fund, et.al v. Michael Pack: Where the Accountability Rests – At the Ballot Box

 

OPEN TECHNOLOGY FUND, et al., Plaintiffs, v. MICHAEL PACK, in his official capacity as Chief Executive Officer and Director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Defendant
For nearly 80 years, international broadcasting sponsored by the United States has served as a trusted and authoritative global news source, a forum for the expression of diverse viewpoints on the most pressing topics of the day, a model of journalistic excellence and independence, and a beacon of hope for those trapped within authoritarian regimes. Despite being funded by American taxpayers, U.S. international broadcasting has typically remained free of governmental interference. Indeed, its autonomy and its commitment to providing objective news coverage has often been viewed as key to its ability to advance the interests of the United States abroad. Our country’s commitment to this model of cultural export has largely been viewed as a rousing success, helping to undermine and topple some of history’s most oppressive regimes—including Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union—by spreading freedom and democracy around the globe. The current Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of the United States Agency for Global Media (“USAGM”)—the defendant, Michael Pack—is accused of putting this legacy at serious risk. Since taking office less than a month ago, Pack has upended U.S.-sponsored international broadcasting. Most relevant to the current dispute, on June 17, 2020, Pack unilaterally removed the operational heads and directors of four USAGM-funded organizations—Open Technology Fund (“OTF”), Radio Free Europe (“RFE”), Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (collectively, “Networks”)1—and replaced the directors with five members of the current Trump Administration as well as an employee of Liberty Counsel Action, a conservative advocacy organization.
[…]
Pack’s actions have global ramifications, and plaintiffs in this case have expressed deep concerns that his tenure as USAGM CEO will damage the independence and integrity of U.S.- sponsored international broadcasting efforts. If they are correct, the result will be to diminish America’s presence on the international stage, impede the distribution around the world of accurate information on important affairs, and strengthen totalitarian governments everywhere. Yet, Congress has decided to concentrate unilateral power in the USAGM CEO, and the Court cannot override that determination. If Pack’s actions turn out to be misguided, his appointment by the President and confirmation by the Senate points to where the accountability rests: at the ballot box. Based on an evaluation of plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits, the solution is likely not in this Court.
Read in full here:

https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2020cv1710-22

@USAGMgov: Heads of MBN, Radio Free Asia, RFE/RL, and the Open Technology Fund Ousted

On June 16, the top two officials at the Voice of America resigned with the arrival of new Trump appointee Michael  Pack as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (see Top VOA Officials Resign as Michael Pack Assumes Charge as CEO of @USAGMgov).
On Wednesday evening, the news media reports the dismissal of the remaining heads of the four organizations under USAGM. OCB already has an interim director since 2018, and VOA was just vacated. For those unfamiliar with the agency, this used to be BBG prior to its “larger modernization effort”  in August 2018.

Via CNN:
The heads of four organizations overseen by the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) were all dismissed Wednesday night — a move likely to heighten concerns that new Trump-appointed CEO Michael Pack means to turn the agency into a political arm of the administration.
In what a former official described as a “Wednesday night massacre,” the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund were all ousted, multiple sources told CNN.
“They let go all of the heads of the networks. It’s unprecedented,” an agency source told CNN.
A source familiar with the situation said at least two of the removals — that of RFE/RL’s Jamie Fly and MBN’s Alberto Fernandez — were unexpected. The head of the Open Technology Fund, Libby Liu, had resigned effective July, but was still fired Wednesday evening, one of the sources said.
[…]
In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, an ally the ultra-conservative former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is expected to be named to lead the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

 

Top VOA Officials Resign as Michael Pack Assumes Charge as CEO of @USAGMgov

 

The newly confirm CEO Michael Pack “oversees all aspects of U.S. international media.”  He reportedly also “provides day-to-day management of USAGM’s operations, including oversight of the technical, professional, and administrative support as well as strategic guidance and management of other programs. USAGM’s management team is listed here.

Michael Pack’s Nomination to be @USAGMgov Head Hits Double Snag

 

John Lansing Resigns From USAGM to be CEO For National Public Radio (NPR)

 

The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM, @USAGMgov) will soon be without a chief executive officer. USAGM released a statement on the departure of its CEO John Lansing. He joined USAGM (then known as BBG) as CEO and Director in September 2015. Excerpt below:

After four years serving as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), John F. Lansing will be leaving USAGM—an independent federal agency providing accurate, objective, and professional news and information worldwide—at the end of this month to start the next chapter of his career as the President and CEO of National Public Radio (NPR).

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs also released a statement. Excerpt below:

“It’s important that when John steps down, there is continuity of leadership at USAGM. Changes in the law adopted in 2016 provided for a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed CEO to lead the agency. But the Senate has not confirmed such a nominee and until it does so, the existing Board of Governors retains the power to name a replacement. I urge the Board to do so immediately, as we can’t predict when the Senate may act on the President’s nominee. This is too important a job to be left vacant for even a day.”