One Defense Contract Management Agency engineer who took his suspicions about contractor overpricing outside his management chain made local headlines in Georgia in 2002 when he was escorted off his work site — a Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta — by armed guards.
The Lockheed guards, acting at the request of local DCMA managers, searched his red Silverado truck as two Cobb County sheriffs sitting in their patrol cars watched from a distance.
“This is what they think it takes to control me,” recalled the engineer, Ken Pedeleose. “They couldn’t even tell me what I was charged with.”
One month before, in June 2002, an inspector general’s report determined that contract administration and oversight by DCMA for aircraft equipment had been “inadequate” and led to poor performance.
Pedeleose takes some credit for initiating that investigation as well as others that include accusations of fraudulent overpricing on hardware and aircraft that could total millions of dollars.
Last year, he and two colleagues wrote a 90-page report, cross-referenced with hundreds of documents and correspondence, accusing DCMA officials and the Pentagon of routinely bypassing administrative safeguards. The report was delivered to more than 50 members of Congress.
DCMA officials declined to be interviewed on the Pedeleose matter, but a statement from the agency’s Eastern regional command in Boston said, “There will be savings associated with Mr. Pedeleose’s recommendations.”
As far as the removal of Pedeleose by armed guards, the DCMA statement said Lockheed reported that a witness had overheard Pedeleose discussing guns with a colleague. Without first sharing the complaint with Pedeleose, DCMA determined the conversation to be a “work force safety issue,” and requested that Lockheed guards remove him.
Lockheed referred all questions about the incident to DCMA.
Pedeleose said he had been talking about target practice, but also said DCMA officials repeatedly changed its version of the event. He believes management had been looking for a way to have him fired. “The first story was that I physically threatened someone and was proven untrue,” Pedeleose said. “This was all about reprisal.”
Keith Ernst, director of DCMA East in Boston said that a work environment study of the Marietta office is under way precipitated by recent complaints about management practices and low morale. “It’s only good leadership to find out if it is widespread,” Ernst said, who added that such studies are “rare.”
The study has identified a communication problem between management and the work force, and steps are being taken to address that, Ernst said. Those steps include coaching of second-level supervisors and above.
“There are unrealistic expectations in the work force, too,” Ernst said, “but we are going back to the root cause and improving communication.”
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