What started as an FBI investigation into suspicious payments to an unconfirmed nominee for an Air Force position, has grown to include seven contracts between the Pentagon and two tax-exempt defense firms in Pennsylvania.
In 2007, the FBI began an internal investigation after an article in the Washington Post
revealed that the Air Force had used Commonwealth Research Institute (CRI) to pay Charles Riechers, a senior civilian who was waiting on finalization of his White House nomination to principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition.
In October 2007, Riechers was found dead in an apparent suicide
Since then, the scope of the federal investigation has broadened, and the FBI and Pentagon's Defense Criminal Investigative Service issued subpoenas in April to CRI and its parent company, Concurrent Technologies.
Those subpoenas are seeking information about at least seven contracts between the two non-profits and the Pentagon. From the Post
Contracting documents obtained by The Post show that four of the contracts, worth up to $130 million, were awarded to Concurrent over several weeks in May and June 2002. Investigators also are examining a Concurrent deal in 2006 that was worth up to $45 million.
Investigators also want to know about two CRI deals, one from 2003 worth up to $10 million and another awarded without competition in 2006 that is worth up to $45 million.
All seven contracts were awarded by the Department of the Interior's National Business Center. The center has an interesting track record on non-competitive contracts:
The Pentagon has used that center for billions of dollars in purchases in recent years, though audits have found that the center often awarded contracts without competition or checks to determine whether prices were reasonable. One audit in late 2006 found that the center "routinely violated rules designed to protect U.S. Government interests."
Perhaps one more interesting twist to the story, involves the $226 million in earmarks
that CRI and Concurrent have received in recent years, through Rep. John Murtha