Archive for the ‘GAO’ Category

“High-security” research labs really not secure

October 16, 2008

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Intruders could easily break into two U.S. laboratories where researchers handle some of the world’s deadliest germs, according to congressional investigators. The Associated Press identified the vulnerable lab locations as Atlanta and San Antonio.
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The serious security problems at the two labs were described by the Government Accountability Office in a report expected to be released publicly as early as Thursday. The GAO, Congress’ investigative and auditing arm, did not identify the labs except to say they were classified as Biosafety Level 4 facilities, but the report included enough details for the AP — and others knowledgeable about such labs — to determine their locations. Biosafety Level 4 labs do research on deadly germs and toxins.

In Texas, the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research features an outside window that looks directly into the room where the deadly germs are handled. The lab, which is privately run, also lacks many security cameras, intrusion detection alarms or visible armed guards at its public entrances. Officials there said they will tighten security.

“We already have an initiative under way to look at perimeter security,” said Kenneth Trevett, president of the lab in San Antonio. “We’re waiting for additional input but we’re not waiting long. The GAO would like us to do some fairly significant things. They would like us to do it sooner rather than later.”

The other lab described with weak security in the report is operated by Georgia State University in Atlanta. That lab lacked complete security barriers and any integrated security system, including any live monitoring by security cameras. During their review, investigators said they watched an unidentified pedestrian enter the building through an unguarded loading dock.

“Georgia State clearly wants its BSL-4 to be as safe as possible,” said DeAnna Hines, assistant vice president for university relations. “We are already taking steps that will enhance the lab’s safety and security standards….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081016/ap_on_
go_co/deadly_germs;_ylt=AqaP
oZG_ALdEOFx31a6rLGKs0NUE

Crisis: Soldiers, Marines Returning from War with Mental Health Issues

April 18, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
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Soldiers and Marines are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health issues at an alarming rate.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, as many as 1 in 5 U.S. Soldiers and Marines returning from the war are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Unfortunately, we at Peace and Freedom believe that the numbers will eventually exceed the GAO estimate.

We got interested in PTSD in the winter of 2006-2007 when visiting the mental health ward of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington DC with a friend. Every man in the waiting area had a story. Most served in Vietnam but my friend served in Korea.  All had PTSD.

After researching, we ended up with so much information collected from doctors, nurses and sufferers that I wrote a five article series on PTSD.

In February I wrote, “The VA vastly underestimated the number of PTSD cases it expected to see in 2006, predicting it would see 2,900 cases. As of June 2006, the VA had seen more than 34,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for PTSD.”

In other words, the VA put a target on the barn then missed the barn and the state it was in.

Now the GAO says there may be 300,000 PTSD cases among the Soldiers and Marines returning from the war.

That may still be underestimated.

Why?

First: many soldiers have a “macho man” self estimate and refuse to admit that they need treatment.  We have hundreds of email from military families asking how they should deal with a “macho man” who is showing signs of PTSD, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and other mental health disorders that are probably war related.

Second: the costs of treatment could be staggering and long term.

And third: Many PTSD sufferers don’t appear in the medical system until years or even decades later after masking their symptoms with alcohol and drugs.

We have great respect for the GAO and the U.S. military.  Yet we believe the PTSD problem in the U.S. military to be catastrophic and still under estimated. 

We hope the issue of PTSD and all its variations including depression, alcoholism and drug abuse is tackled honestly and well by the United States.

Related:

War Wounds of the Mind Part VI: Half of Soldiers, Marines Returning With PTSD — Red Alert
http://johnib.wordpress.com/2007/05/05/war-wounds-of-the-mind-part-vi-soldiers-returning-with-ptsd-red-alert/

Read Part I at:
http://johnib.wordpress.com/2007/02/15/war-wounds-of-the-mind-part-i-historical-perspective-on-ptsd/

Read Part II at:
http://johnib.wordpress.com/2007/02/16/war-wounds-of-the-mind-part-ii-discussions-with-ptsd-sufferers/

War Wounds of the Mind Part III: The Commanders

War Wounds of The Mind Part IV: A Warning About Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

In God’s Hands Now: The Passing of a Stateless Soldier and a Good Man

Many Weapons Programs Over Budget, Late

April 1, 2008

By Dana Hedgpeth 

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 1, 2008; Page A01

Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon‘s biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
The Navy expects the costs of its first two Littoral Combat Ships to exceed their combined budget of $472 million by more than 100 percent.

The Navy expects the costs of its first two Littoral Combat Ships to exceed their combined budget of $472 million by more than 100 percent. (Lockheed Martin Via Associated Press) 

The Government Accountability Office found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.

Auditors said the Defense Department showed few signs of improvement since the GAO began issuing its annual assessments of selected weapons systems six years ago. “It’s not getting any better by any means,” said Michael Sullivan, director of the GAO’s acquisition and sourcing team. “It’s taking longer and costing more.”

Chris Isleib, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a written statement, “We’d like to look at what GAO has said, and then at the appropriate time make an informed comment.”

The Pentagon has doubled the amount it has committed to new systems, from $790 billion in 2000 to $1.6 trillion last year, according to the 205-page GAO report. Total acquisition costs in 2007 for major defense programs increased 26 percent from first estimates. In 2000, 75 programs had cost increases totaling 6 percent. Development costs in 2007 for the systems rose 40 percent from initial projections, compared with 27 percent in 2000. Current programs are delivered 21 months late on average, five months later than in 2000.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/31/AR2008033102789.html?hpid=topnews

GAO: Missile Defense Has Cost Overruns

March 18, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Missile Defense Agency made progress in installing land-based interceptors and sea-based missiles and upgrading ships’ combat systems over the past two years, but spent at least $1 billion more than planned.

An aerial photo of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virgina. The Pentagon ... 

On Monday, the Government Accountability Office said its investigation found cost overruns with individual programs but couldn’t put a dollar figure on the agency’s overall spending for 2006 and 2007. That’s because the Missile Defense Agency deferred some budgeted work into the future and because contractors used a planning method that did not link time and money spent with work completed.The Missile Defense Agency, the largest research and development program inside the Defense Department, is funded at up to $10 billion a year. The agency oversees the nation’s system of missiles and other interceptors intended to detect, track and shoot down incoming missiles before they strike.

The GAO also noted that unprecedented flexibility in funding and decision making has made the Missile Defense Agency less accountable and transparent than other major government programs.

Read the rest:
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080317/missile_
defense_gao_report.html?.v=1