Blog Archive

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eli Rabett: PEER on IG Persuit of Dead Polar Bear [more evidence proving that Eric May had in his possession evidence proving that Dr. Charles Monnett was innocent of all accusations against him before he was interviewed]

Peer on IG Persuit of Dead Polar Bear

by Eli Rabett, Rabett Run, September 14, 2011

Peer has posted the transcript from the 8/9 Kafka play
The IG originally begin looking into a short 2006 article by marine ecologist Dr. Charles Monnett and a colleague on sightings of drowned polar bears following a storm. This year, the IG expanded its inquiry to include alleged irregularities identified by its agents in his creation of a joint U.S.-Canadian study of polar bear movement across international boundaries, including a supposed tie between publication of the polar bear paper and award of the study. However, documents assembled by PEER reveal –
  • The Canadian study was set up months before drowned polar bears were first observed, making any charge of a quid pro quo between the two unsupportable;
  • Dr. Monnett did not receive any appointment with legal acquisition responsibility until after the Canadian contract was signed; and
  • All of Dr. Monnett’s communications with Canadian researchers were encouraged by his own chain-of-command and procurement officials.
Rabett Run has already (like a month ago) posted most of this information, but there are some goodies, for example a letter from the chief editor of Polar Biology stating unequivocally that Andrew Derocher was NOT a reviewer of the Gleason and Monnett paper
From: Polar Biology Chief Editor Date: August 12, 2011 1:57:37 AM MDT To: Andrew Derocher
Subject: Re: Publication in Polar Biology

Dear Andrew, You're right, all this fuss seems to be a bit "bizarre" and - from an outsider's perspective - somewhat overacted. I've got news from Rolf now, and I can assure you that you were NOT among the peer reviewers of Monnett's manuscript.
A lot of people, Lubos the Lame, being one that came to Eli's attention, owe Drs. Derocher and Monnett an apologies. Bets are being taken whether they get one.

Monnett was NOT the COTR (Contracting Officer's Technical Representative) when the contract with the University of Alberta was being negotiated, but
A. Dr. Monnett did not become a COTR until AFTER study contract was executed. During the August 9th IG interview, Dr. Monnett stated that he served as the Contracting Officers Technical Representative (COTR) for the University of Alberta study. This is correct but it was not until he was reinstated from administrative leave and had a chance to study his e-mails from this period six years ago that he found that his COTR appointment was not made until September 24, 2005 – after the final contract had been signed (see Attachment II).

Thus, during the contract approval process, which is the focus of the IG inquiry, Dr. Monnett had no responsibilities with respect to the Federal Acquisition Regulations. During this period, his role was to serve as the designated Point of Contact between the Alaska Region, and the Procurement Operations Branch and the University of Alberta.
Thus Dr. Monnett was NOT barred from looking at Dr. Derocher's proposal, indeed that was part of his responsibilities.

UPDATE: In the comments, Deech, who has experience in government contracting adds
Point of clarification: the COTR appointment is always made after contract award. Prior to award (and therefore, during negotiation), the Program official has the title "Project Officer." Between submission and award, the POC is usually the Contracting Officer (or Specialist) and the PO advises the CO on the responses to the review panel's questions and appropriateness of the budget. Of course he would have to be reading the submitted proposal, and in this instance, he would have worked with any potential Offeror as part of his market research prior to posting the solicitation.

This case may have been unusual, but it looks like Monnett acted with full knowledge of his highers up and the Contracting Office. What comes through in the transcript is the difficulty in fitting a research project to the FAR. It sounds like they were trying to get a quality study and save the government some money.
The real scandal here is that the IG, and it's representative Bozo, Eric May, HAD THIS INFORMATION MANY MONTHS AGO!! when he seized Monnett's computers.
The proposed University of Alberta study was reviewed by the OCS Scientific Committee in April 2004 and recommended for approval. Final approval was given and funds were allocated for procurement at the beginning of FY-2005. The study was only possible because the Canadians provided more than $800,000 towards the cost of the $2,000,000 study.
The original intra-agency funding mechanism was abandoned
because when the study was conceived it was expected to be an “partnership” rather than a contract since, among other reasons, the University and CWS would provide nearly $1 million funds toward the objectives. Due to difficulties with creating such agreements that span international boundaries, the MMS Contracting Officer (CO) for the study, Jane Carlson, recommended the study be prepared as a sole-source procurement.
Ah Eli has a name for the to be named later original Contracting Officer and the second one, Debra Bridge, appointed after the original CO retired 1/2005. She wrote to Monnett asking for a copy of the proposal, and he replied that he did not have it. She was not surprised
From: Bridge, Debra
Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2005 4:43 AM
To: Monnett, Charles Subject:
RE: Sole Source Justification - Polar Bears

I’m happy to take on this “baggage” and will move it forward ASAP. Yes, the CO is supposed to obtain the proposal but many times this is already done by the time we get the procurement package (funny how that happens!). Anyway, I’ll move it forward just as quickly as possible. I’ll send you a copy of the FBO announcement as an FYI. My intent is to get it posted today. Anything else, let me know. Thanks. Debbie
An investigation of Eric May is needed HE HAD ALL THIS MONTHS AGO.

Monnett was TOLD to work with Derocher on the proposal by his superior James Kendall
From: Kendall, James []
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 9:38 AM
To: Monnett, Charles Cc: Benner, Lee; Carlson, Jane; Cimato, James M; Cowles, Cleveland; Wallace, Barbara; Hargrove, Michael Subject:
FW: Importance: High

Hi Chuck:
As you discussed yesterday with Jim Cimato, Lee Benner is out for the rest of the year. However, to help keep this on schedule, I reviewed the dSOW myself this A.M. and added just a couple of edits:

1) I included Chief ESB as a recipient of the quarterly reports – I really do need my staff up to speed on all our studies efforts. Often our fire drills do not allow enough time to coordinate with the Regional Programs.

2) I beefed up the verbiage regarding “Draft peer-reviewed journal article”. We recently had a very, very public “flare-up” regarding the perception that MMS has to give permission to scientists to publish ------- then, it was misconstrued as “censorship.” See my suggested verbiage.

Also, do you want to require the Contractor to have a website for the project?????

Finally, while I do want Lee to look over the dSOW, I understand that since this will conducted by the Canadian Wildlife Service and/or U.Alberta (please clarify) in Canada, a Fed Bis-Ops announcement, etc. is not necessary. As such, Jane Carlson (the CO-Eli) has informed us that it is OK for you to send the draft SOW to them so they can start thinking about how to prepare their proposal.

I’ll have Lee look at it as soon as she gets back (around January 10th); any comments she has can be incorporated into the Final SOW that will be officially sent to through the procurement process to the Canadians.
Cheers, jjk
Who is this Eric May? Who made the original complaint? Inquiring auditors want to know (BTW, Monnett has the right to see the original complaint once the investigation is concluded).

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