May 17, 2020

Pentagon Wastes $30 Billion on No-Bid Contracts

Commission
On
Wartime
Contracting
Admin
3 min
The Commission on Wartime Contracting claims that $30 billion in no-bid contracts has been wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan due to bad management and fraud
I wish I could say I was shocked to learn that the Pentagon wasted over $30 billion on private no-bid contracts for projects in Iraq and Afghanistan th...

I wish I could say I was shocked to learn that the Pentagon wasted  over $30 billion on private no-bid contracts for projects in Iraq and Afghanistan that will never come to fruition.  However, considering the economic calamity currently defining the United States and its leadership, I’m not surprised.  In an independent inquiry due to be submitted to Congress on Wednesday, the Commission on Wartime Contracting warns of waste and fraud in the Pentagon’s contracting activities.

"Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted through poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak interagency coordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees," the co-chairs of the panel, Christopher Shays and Michael Thibault, wrote in a commentary in the Washington Post

Examples cited by the Commission include a $300 million power plant in Kabul.  It is feared that the Afghan government will not have the technical means by which to run the plant on its own, nor the funds to sustain its operation.  Other examples of wasteful contracts include a $40 million prison in Iraq that the government there “did not want and that was never finished,” according to Shays and Thibault.

One of the major downfalls in the Pentagon’s contracting process is believed by the Commission to be the lack of competition in the no-bid process.  In fact, no-bid contracts nearly tripled from $50 billion in 2001 to $140 billion in 2010 following the attacks of September 11, 2011.  The Pentagon defends non-competitive no-bid contracts claiming that there is often only one supplier of certain goods and that wartime efforts offer an unusual and compelling urgency. "There have been many instances because of wartime needs where a long, lengthy competitive bid contract process does not serve the needs of the warfighters," says Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan.

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In one interesting case, U.S.-based company Applied Energetics won a contract worth over $50 million for a futuristic lightning weapon used to detonate roadside bombs.  The weapon, however, failed some tests and was ultimately decommissioned for use. 

The Commission’s report, to be officially published on Wednesday, makes recommendations on how to improve contracting activities to ensure this kind of waste is minimized in the future.  It also recommends modifying or canceling completely projects that are unsustainable.  The report claims corruption both by the U.S., the contractors and the host countries where these projects are being developed. 

So while bridges, dams, roads and levies here in the United States literally crumble due to a lack of infrastructure redevelopment, Pentagon officials have been lining the pockets of government contractors with billions in taxpayer dollars for projects that are of no use at all.  The Roman Empire fell from within, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that it tends to repeat itself.   

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Jul 30, 2021

Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector

marineenergy
renewableenergy
tidalturbine
Sustainability
3 min
The UK’s nascent marine energy sector starts exporting electricity to the grid as the most powerful tidal turbine in the world begins to generate power

Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre

At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable. 

How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?

Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.” 

“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement. 

The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.

“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government. 

“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.

“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”

However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future. 

We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.” 

The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours

This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly

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