Thursday, March 27, 2008

US Passports 'Outsourced' to Thailand; Illeagal GPO Profits Under Scrutiny

Absolutely astounding....Bill Gertz in the Washington Times:

The inspector general of the Government Printing Office today said his office is conducting an "end-to-end" review of the agency's production of electronic passports.

GPO Inspector General J. Anthony Ogden said the review is part of the office's work plan and will look at the outsourcing of some passport components, such as computer chips embedded in travel documents.

The comments follow a report in today's editions of The Washington Times quoting congressional and GPO officials who raised security questions about the use of foreign contractors in the process.

The Washington Times reported that the GPO had contracted with two European companies to produce computer chips with a wire antenna assembled at a plant in Thailand. The company in Thailand, Smartrac, charged in a court filing in Netherlands last year that its technology was stolen by China.

The outsourcing has raised concerns among investigators over the security of passports. GPO and State Department officials have sought to play down security concerns and have said they conduct regular checks of overseas manufacturers.

So I guess manufacturing electronics and printing passports are now under the catagory of Jobs Americans Won't Do???

It's not only the threat of counterfeit passports that has Congress investigating. It appears that by outsourcing and overcharging American citizens the GPO illegally took in over $100 million in profits:

Documents and interviews with Bush administration officials said the GPO made about $100 million in profits on the production of electronic passports since 2006 and their sale to the State Department far beyond the costs.

The profits are raising questions among congressional investigators about whether the GPO is complying with laws that limit its business activities to recovering printing costs on a break-even basis.

And what did the GPO spend that $100 million on? Bonuses, gifts and trips:

..the GPO made about $100 million in profits on the production of electronic passports since 2006 and their sale to the State Department far beyond the costs.


When the government's main printing agency booked $100 million in unexpected profit it went on a spending spree: large bonuses to top managers, trips to Paris and Las Vegas, and an official photo of the boss that cost $10,000.

The bonuses, some nearly as high as $13,000, and travel are raising questions among congressional investigators and Government Printing Office officials about whether the agency is misusing its newfound wealth and whether it received the proper authority for some of the larger compensation payments from the Office of Budget and Management.

Additionally, investigators are looking into whether Public Printer Robert C. Tapella paid close to $10,000 for photographs of himself for his office and during his swearing-in ceremony in November.

Our tax dollars at work!

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