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"Rocket Racket" Reaction

Contractor disputes allegations by local missile-defense whistleblower



The president of a contracting company implicated in recent allegations of fraud, waste and abuse in the U.S. missile-defense program says he's confident federal investigators will find no basis for the claims, made by a Colorado Springs whistleblower.

Jay Garner, a retired Army general and president of California-based SY Technology, disputed the allegations of wrongdoing in an interview last week.

Garner has previously refused to comment on the accusations, made by Biff Baker, a former lieutenant colonel at Army Space Command. Baker claims he discovered improper contracting practices last winter, while he was working as a civilian charged with inspecting contractors' performance on the missile-defense program. The controversy was detailed in the June 13 issue of the Independent.

Garner now says Baker's allegations are based on misinformation and hearsay. He says he has urged an investigation of the claims so that the matter may be cleared.

"None of it's true," Garner said of the accusations.

No competitive bidding

Baker, who now teaches at Colorado Technical University, says he discovered improprieties while working for COLSA Corp., a contractor on the missile-defense program. His job, he says, was to make sure contract work was being done according to specifications, on time and on budget.

Baker says he discovered several instances in which two military agencies -- the Missile Defense Agency and the Space and Missile Defense Command -- were giving contracts to SY Technology without going through competitive-bidding processes required by federal regulations.

Garner is a former commander of the Space and Missile Defense Command. A lawyer for one of SY Technology's competitors, DESE Research of Huntsville, Ala., has suggested in court that this may have played a role in SY Technology receiving contracts from the agency. SY Tech has denied the charge.

In March, Baker brought his concerns to the attention of Brig. Gen. John Holly of the Missile Defense Agency. Eight days later, Baker was removed from his contract. He claims the order to fire him came from Holly.

Baker's allegations are now being investigated by the General Accounting Office and the Missile Defense Agency's Office of Internal Management Review.

His own hands

Garner says he didn't respond to previous inquiries from the Independent because military agencies had asked him to wait and let them answer the questions. But because the agencies have failed to do so, Garner says, he has now decided to take care of it himself.

According to Garner, Baker is wrong on several points. One of the contracts that Baker claims was being issued to SY Technology without bidding included work to be done on the Site Activation Command, which will be responsible for the physical deployment of missile-defense systems.

Garner says that work wasn't a new contract but a proposed extension of work that SY Technology was already doing. The government announced the proposal to see if other companies might offer to do the work for less, Garner maintains. In the end, several competitors came forward and SY Technology ended up not getting the work, he says.

Another task -- training of soldiers to use computers that will be the "brains" of the missile-defense system -- was also not a new contract but an addition to another contract that SY Technology had won in a competitive bidding process, Garner says.

Baker has accused SY Technology of "double-dipping," claiming the training work in question was already being performed by the lead contractor on the missile-defense program, the Boeing Co. But Garner says Boeing wasn't doing any such work. Boeing representatives have refused to discuss the matter.

Baker has further alleged that a portion of an SY Technology facility, where soldiers are trained on computer systems, duplicates an older facility at Army Space Command, which was operated at a far lower cost. But Garner says the two facilities are "apples and oranges" and have nothing to do with each other.

Baker's estimates of how much SY Technology is earning on the contracts are also way off, according to Garner. For example, while Baker estimated the soldier training work at $20 million, the actual costs have been below $2 million per year, according to SY Technology figures.

Stands by claims

Baker, meanwhile, stands by his claims. In regards to the work on the Site Activation Command, he says he contacted the military contracting office and was told the decision had, in fact, already been made to choose SY Technology. While SY Technology ultimately didn't get the work, Baker says that's probably because other contractors raised objections.

In regard to the soldier training, Baker says Boeing was indeed performing such work. A Boeing employee, who asked not to be named, has also told the Independent that training work was taken from Boeing and given to SY Technology.

And in regard to cost estimates, Baker says he wasn't given access to all of the official figures but based some of his numbers on what people told him.

Still, the bottom line, Baker says, is that he was fired after he took his concerns to Gen. Holly.

In the end, he says, it's not SY Technology but government contracting officers who are responsible for violating contracting regulations.

"The reason I was fired is because I made the government people look bad, not the SY Technology people," Baker said.

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