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Defense contractor is no longer lead consultant on Delta tunnel plan

by: Dan Bacher

Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 21:46:40 PM PST


The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDC) to build the peripheral tunnels is a controversial plan opposed by fishermen, Indian Tribes, conservationists, family farmers, scores of elected officials and most Californians because of the dire threat it poses to Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations and Delta farms.

However, few people are aware that the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a notorious defense and intelligence agency contractor that recently had to pay $500 million in a fraud settlement to New York City, currently bills itself on its website as the lead consulting company for the BDCP. SAIC was indeed the lead consultant in the plan to build the twin tunnels until recently, when another firm, ICF International, replaced SAIC as the lead consultant.

The SAIC website features an entire page (http://www2.saic.com/project/bay-delta-conservation-plan) dedicated to its contract with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan proclaiming, "SAIC is the lead consultant for California's Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which will support the recovery of endangered Delta fish species and will help the state plan for continued delivery of water supply to 23 million Californians and 3 million acres of farmland."

"SAIC's role has been central to the development of the BDCP. SAIC manages a team of more than two dozen subcontractors and has been responsible for preparation of all aspects of the BDCP document. The BDCP document will serve as a federal habitat conservation plan in compliance with the Endangered Species Act and as a state natural community conservation plan in compliance with a unique California law aimed at protecting and restoring whole ecosystems," the website states.

In response to the claims on the SAIC website, engineer Dr. Robert Pyke, a critic of the peripheral tunnel plan, said that though SAIC "nominally still might hold a prime contract on BDCP they have been replaced as the lead consultant by ICF International (really Jones & Stokes who were acquired by ICF)."

In recent BDCP public meetings I have attended, ICF International representatives have indeed given the power point presentations regarding the latest "science" updates on the plan rather than SAIC consultants.

Mike Taugher, Department of Fish and Wildlife Communications Director, confirmed that ICF International is now the lead contractor for BDCP, not SAIC.

"SAIC has a minor contract that expires Jan. 31," said Taugher. "BDCP may add SAIC as a subcontractor for specific projects in the future."

According to SAIC's website (http://www.saic.com/), "SAIC is a FORTUNE 500® scientific, engineering, and technology applications company that uses its deep domain knowledge to solve problems of vital importance to the nation and the world, in national security, energy and the environment, critical infrastructure, and health. The Company's approximately 40,000 employees serve customers in the U.S. Department of Defense, the intelligence community, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, other U.S. Government civil agencies and selected commercial markets. Headquartered in McLean, Va., SAIC had annual revenues of approximately $10.6 billion for its fiscal year ended January 31, 2012."

"Crocodyl.org," a collaboration between nonprofit organizations such as Center for Corporate Policy, CorpWatch, Corporate Research Project, other contributing organizations and individual contributors from around the world, has published "'Spies for Hire," an extensive article documenting SAIC's history and operations throughout the U.S. and the word.

The principle agencies SAIC contracts with are the National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and Department of Defense (DoD), according to Crocodyl.

"Together with Booz Allen Hamilton, San Diego-based SAIC stands like a private colossus across the whole intelligence industry," reported author researcher Tim Shorrock. "Of SAIC's 42,000 employees, more than 20,000 hold U.S. government security clearances, making it, with Lockheed Martin, one of the largest private intelligence services in the world."

"SAIC's largest and most well-known customer in the intelligence community is the National Security Agency. Indeed, so many NSA officials have gone to work at SAIC that intelligence insiders call the company 'NSA West.' SAIC also does a significant amount of work for the Central Intelligence Agency, where it is among the top five contractors," said Shorrock.

"SAIC is deeply involved in the operations of all the major collection agencies, particularly the NSA, NGA and CIA. SAIC, for example, managed one of the NSA's largest efforts in recent years, the $3 billion Project Trailblazer, which attempted (and failed) to create actionable intelligence from the cacophony of telephone calls, fax messages, and emails that the NSA picks up every day. Launched in 2001, Trailblazer experienced hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns and NSA cancelled it in 2005. SAIC's Homeland Intelligence Solutions Operation unit holds contracts with the controversial Counter-Intelligence Field Activity office, now part of the DIA," noted Shorrock.

For more information, go to: http://www.crocodyl.org/spies_...

In the most recent scandal to hit SAIC, the corporation had to pay over $500 million in a settlement over an employment timekeeping program it managed for New York City, according to an article by Marjorie Censer in the Washington Post on March 18, 2012. (http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-03-18/business/35449634_1_saic-citytime-fraud)

"Under its settlement, SAIC will pay $500.4 million in restitution and penalties," Censer wrote. "The company will also waive an additional $40 million that the city has not paid, and the U.S Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York will appoint an independent monitor for three years to review certain SAIC policies and practices."

Censer said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, called problems in the program "perhaps the single largest fraud ever perpetrated on the city of New York."

In the wake of the scandal, SAIC President and Chief Executive Officer John P. Jumper was elected Chair of the SAIC Board of Directors, effective June 15, 2012. Jumper succeeded A. Thomas Young as Chair of the Board. The Board also appointed Lawrence C. Nussdorf, an independent director, to serve as Lead Director.

Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, an environmentally destructive project opposed by fishing groups, Indian Tribes, conservation organizations, family farmers, scores of elected officials and the people of California. Brown used his State of the State Address on January 24 to promote the construction of the fish-killing tunnels.

"My proposed plan is two tunnels 30 miles long and 40 feet wide, designed to improve the ecology of the Delta, with almost 100 square miles of habitat restoration," claimed Governor Brown. "Yes, that is big but so is the problem." (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/24/1181805/-Governor-Brown-uses-address-to-promote-peripheral-tunnels)

Brown's statement sounds nice, but like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, it simply isn't true. The construction of the peripheral tunnels would likely lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other species, according to agency and independent scientists. For details on the threat to listed species posed by the BDCP, read the briefing paper by the Bay Institute and Defenders of Wildlife at: http://www.bay.org/assets/BDCP...

The credibility of Brown's plan is furthermore called in doubt when one realizes that the lead consultant for the BDCP until recently was a defense/intelligence agency contractor that had to pay over $500 million over alleged fraud it committed in a contract with New York City.

Dan Bacher :: Defense contractor is no longer lead consultant on Delta tunnel plan
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