Nice Work if You Can Get It

Nearly every elected official today agrees that we need to reduce our huge federal deficit.  Virtually all outside experts agree although some, such as Paul Krugman, want us to delay doing so until the economy improves. 

Traditional conservative thought favoring limited government asserts that government tends to be inefficient and wasteful because it isn’t burdened by competition.  Sadly, few politicians today seem to subscribe to this idea anytime, and especially when the Pentagon is involved.

However, a good illustration supporting this concept hit the papers today with news that Aerospace Corporation, which oversees many of the nation’s most classified programs, including the development of multibillion-dollar spy satellites and the rockets that lift them into space, paid $2.5 million to settle Justice Department allegations that the company defrauded the Air Force for years by billing for an employee’s time when it knew he was rarely at work. 

In a fascinating tale of corporate and bureaucratic incompetence, the employee (one William Grayson Hunter) would only occasionally show up at Aerospace in the morning and work for an hour before heading to a second job at Analytical Services & Materials Inc. (another prominent defense contractor) — or simply out to have some fun.  Incredibly, Hunter apparently ran the scheme from 2003 until 2008 and sometimes billed more than 24 hours of work in a single day, even though credit card records show that he was often at a local watering hole called Liquid Zoo, visiting Disneyland or going to the movies.

In addition to submitting fraudulent time cards, Hunter falsely claimed to hold a doctorate from Oxford even though he had only a high school education.

Nice work if you can get it. 

According to a government attorney involved in the investigation, Aerospace knew that Hunter was not working the hours he claimed and billed the government anyway.  Despite proposed cutbacks in government spending, Aerospace’s budget increased to about $900 million in fiscal 2011.

Nice work if you can get it. 

The scam was only discovered when yet a third defense contractor from which Hunter sought employment, Tybrin Corporation, inquired about his security clearance.  Sadly, Hunter died before he could face charges.

Apparently Hunter was still able to garner “mixed reviews” from supervisors despite his lack of work.  As long as the billings keep getting paid, what’s not to like?  Aerospace spokeswoman Pamela Keeton said that the position Hunter held, which paid him $137,000 per year (his ASM salary remains undisclosed), “gave him a lot of autonomy and discretion. Unfortunately, he abused this privilege.”

Indeed.

One thought on “Nice Work if You Can Get It

  1. Pingback: A Case for Less-Principled Government | Above the Market

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