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A Tip for VBA: Don’t Try to Spy on Congressional Staff

By Bob Brewin // July 15, 2014

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs // J. Scott Applewhite/AP File Photo

Staffers from the House veterans affairs' committee showed up at the Veterans Benefits Administration regional office in Philadelphia on July 2 in response to complaints from frontline employees.

The staffers met with Philadelphia managers in a fourth-floor conference room and then were told another room had been prepared for them on the third floor, complete with computers. 

Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., told a hearing held last night the third floor room also was wired for sound and video to surreptitiously record the staffers – who quickly figured it out and moved to a room used by the inspector general staff free from observation.

This sounds like a cheap spy thriller and would be comical if it was not tragic.

Pentagon 1992 Memo Detailed Information Warfare Strategy

By Bob Brewin // Government Executive // July 14, 2014

Donald Atwood was Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1989 until 1993.
Donald Atwood was Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1989 until 1993. // Defense Department file photo

Just over a year after the debut of the World Wide Web, Donald Atwood, then-deputy secretary of defense, detailed a high-level information warfare strategy in a Dec. 21, 1992 directive.

The once-SECRET directive posted on the Defense Department Freedom of Information Act reading room website said U.S. Armed Forces should be “organized, trained, equipped and supported in such a manner as to be able to achieve a distinct information advantage over potential adversaries in order to win quickly, decisively and with minimum losses and collateral effects.”

The memo called for development of offensive designed to exploit enemy systems and “to corrupt those systems . . . whenever practical and cost effective.”

As far as I can figure out, this is the first Pentagon info-war memo, and it focused DOD from the start on attack rather than defense.

On the Trail of the Elusive ‘Contractor Sustainment Re-vector’

By Bob Brewin // July 10, 2014

Lockheed Martin's Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite is used by the Air Force.
Lockheed Martin's Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite is used by the Air Force. // U.S. Air Force

On Monday, June 30, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded Lockheed Martin a $38.8 increase to its Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) contract for something dubbed “System Interim Contractor Sustainment Re-vector.”

Huh?

I have covered the Defense Department for more than 25 years and have never encountered a Contractor Sustainment Re-vector in the field or the Pentagon and have no idea what it means. So I fired an email off to Space and Missile Systems Center on Tuesday July 2 and asked for a plain English explanation, in the next day or two.

Turns out that the Space and Missile Systems Center has cumbersome processes which would not allow it to answer this query in less than five business days – which with the long holiday weekend, meant I would hear back from them Wednesday.

Still no answer to what seems like a simple question. I would appreciate help from any reader who has any idea what a Contractor Sustainment Re-vector means.

Marines Eye Big Brother Commercial Vehicle Tracking System

By Bob Brewin // Government Executive // July 9, 2014

Keith Bell / Shutterstock.com

The Marine Corps wants to buy a system to track all its owned and leased commercial vehicles at its Southern California and Arizona bases.

The system, which will consist of multiple sensors including GPS and video systems, leaves little room for driver excesses, as they will track speed and record what’s going on with the cameras. All this information will be stored in a big data warehouse.

It may be better to walk. 

(Image via Keith Bell / Shutterstock.com)

House VA Committee Eyes VA eBenefits Mess

By Bob Brewin // July 8, 2014

Veterans Affairs Department

I’m picking up strong signals that the House VA committee has started an informal probe into the 300,000 claims filed through the Veterans Affairs Department’s eBenefits portal over the past year and now appear stuck in cyber-limbo, as I reported last Thursday.

Among other things, the committee, I’m told, is more than a bit irked that it read about it here first -- rather than getting the word directly from VA.

The House panel, which has focused on more serious and deadly problems with the Veterans Health Administration, shifts its scrutiny to the Veterans Benefits Administration at a hearing next Monday, which will include the eBenefits debacle.