Whistleblower protections expanded to include Department of Defense subcontractors

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Whistleblowers who work for Department of Defense
subcontractors will begin receiving protection against reprisals under a new law that’s set
to go into effect July 1.

The new provision is part of the 2013 Defense Authorization
Act. It covers Pentagon subcontractors working on DOD contracts, modified
contracts, grants and task orders, according to Marguerite Garrison, deputy
inspector general for administrative investigations.

“Before when we got a complaint from a subcontractor they
weren’t covered, so we (Office of Inspector General) did not conduct an
investigation,” Garrison said.

The change expands whistleblower protection to all defense
subcontractors, as well as employees who report wrongdoing internally as
opposed to a government agency. A loophole in the previous law did not protect
subcontractors from reprisals if they made their complaint internally – such as
to a supervisor or on a company hotline – as opposed to a government agency.

“What this was before was the subcontractor could make a
claim to his boss — usually internally — and we found that they weren’t making
the disclosure to a government official, they were making it to their
management,” she said in an interview with American Forces Press Service. “Now
they are covered if they make that statement or that complaint to their
management official.”

The new law also expands whom whistleblowers can disclose
the information about waste, fraud or abuse to now include “a court or a grand jury, as well as
management officials or other employees of the contractor or subcontractor who
has the responsibility to investigate, discover or address the misconduct,”
Garrison said.

The stipulations will only apply to existing contracts if
they are modified on or after July 1.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/06/whistleblower_protections_expa.html

Star Market seeks to remain at Bailey Cove property, block eviction

Star Market on Bailey CoveStar Market on Bailey Cove Road. (The Huntsville Times/Dave Dieter) 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — In a filing late Friday afternoon, Star Market is asking a Madison County court to block the landlord of its Bailey Cove store from terminating the lease and forcing it off the premises.

The filing contends that Star Market has a valid lease for the property at 9020 Bailey Cove Road. The lease was renewed in January and runs from 2013 to 2018, according to the complaint.

An attorney for property’s owners John W. Hays and James R. Hays notified the company on June 8 that the lease had not been renewed and was converted to a month-to-month lease, Star Market contends in the filing.

The filing also says Star Market was also told by the Hays’ attorney that it had been notified that the month-to-month lease was terminated as of May 31.

Star Market argues that at no point prior to June 8 was it notified there was a “conversion” to a month-to month-lease or that the lease had been terminated.

“Plaintiffs suspect that the defendants have received inquiries from at least one entity seeking to buy the property and accordingly are now attempting to manufacture a means of ending the ground lease,” the filing argues.

The plaintiffs want a Madison County Circuit Court to rule that their five-year lease is valid, to enjoin the defendant or their agents from interfering with Star Market’s access to the property and to block any attempts at eviction.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/06/star_markets_seeks_to_remain_a.html

Chief of Naval Operations: Sequestration will not affect Austal’s existing LCS and JHSV contracts


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Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle (L) and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert, discuss sequestration and how it will affect Austal’s Mobile shipyard, Feb. 22, 2013 in Mobile, Ala. (al.com/ Ellen Mitchell)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — Sequestration cuts will not affect Austal USA’s 10-ship, $1.6 billion joint high-speed vessel contract with the U.S. Navy, nor will it affect its contract to build five 127-meter littoral combat ships, according to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert.

During a tour of the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile today, Greenert said sequestration cuts will not affect projects that are already under contract, including Austal’s JHSV and LCS Navy deals.

“Sequestration will impact every single program; it requires a cut in every budget line,” Greenert said. “However, all those ships here that are under contract will not be affected, but we’ll have to move some money within the program line.”

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said Austal is optimistic that it’s providing a low cost
solution to the Navy, and does not expect any job cuts from
sequestration in regards to Austal’s existing Navy contracts.

“All
of our focus right now is delivering a great quality product to our
customer and that’s what we can control,” he said. “We’re confident,
based on the feedback that we’re getting from our customer, that we’re
stable on the contracts we have going forward.”

Standing alongside Perciavalle, Greenert addressed sequestration concerns, recent LCS criticisms and the future of the Navy’s partnership with Austal.

In a Bloomberg article released this week, critics inside the Navy referred to the LCS as the “Little Crappy Ship.” The article also discussed the debate over how vulnerable the LCS may be to attack, and cited numerous problems with the newly built vessels, including a six-inch crack in the hull of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s USS Freedom that had to be repaired, and “aggressive” corrosion in the propulsion area of Austal’s USS Independence.

Greenert said despite the LCS coming under fire recently for its design and cost, he’s looking forward to the Navy’s use of the ship.

“The Freedom and the Independence have proven their worth for the design of the ship,” he said. “Some folks felt that the ship should be used for missions or for capabilities which it frankly will not do. Some folks will put it in a situation and say ‘it’s not made for this, it won’t do well in this.’ I would acknowledge that.”

Greenert went on to say that the Navy has intentions to operate the ship in conjunction with other, larger ships, so he’s very optimistic that the ship will do well.

Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland and Austal Ltd., based in Henderson, Australia, build two separate versions of the LCS. The dual sets of ships were meant to get them built faster, at a rate of four a year rather than two a year.

Lockheed makes a steel-bodied version in partnership with Marinette Marine Corp., at Marinette’s yard in Marinette, Wis., while Austal makes an aluminum version in partnership with Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. under a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract. The estimated price to build each LCS is $440 million.

The LCS is intended to perform missions such as destroying mines, hunting submarines, interdicting drugs and providing humanitarian relief.

“As a customer, I’m here to check out the wares that we buy,” Greenert said of his shipyard tour. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve got a lot of capacity for future building.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/chief_of_naval_operations_sequ.html

Alabama State Port Authority: Shipping report for Feb 24


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The MSC LAURA docks at APM Terminals Mobile, June 4, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (Photo courtesy of the Alabama State Port Authority)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — The Alabama State Port Authority provides its weekly port activity report, including ship departures and arrivals for the next week.

Departure and arrival dates, vessel name, berth, destination and cargo are provided below. Look for the report here on al.com each Sunday.

Arrivals:

Feb. 23: OSTENDE MAX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 23: INTERLINK ACUITY; ASD PIER SOUTH D 1; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 24: STAR EAGLE; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; PANAMA CITY; GENERAL CARGO

Feb 24: AM CONTRECOEUR; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; SWINOUJSCIE, PL; BULK CARGO

Feb 24: MSC JORDAN; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: MSC BARCELONA; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: LIJUN C; ASD SOUTH B 2; KINGSTON, JM; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: BBC ROMANIA; ASD PIER 5; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: LETO; ASD MCDUFFIE; IMMINGHAM, GB; BULK CARGO

Feb. 25: SPIEGELGRACHT; ASD RIVER END C; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: BANDA SEA; ASD RAIL FERRY RAMP; COATZACOALCOS, MX; RAIL

Feb. 26: OCEAN BEAUTY; ASD NORTH A 2; NEW ORLEANS; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: STELLA BECRUX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; CONSTANTZA, RO; BULK CARGO

Feb. 26: THOR; ASD PINTO ISLAND; UNKNOWN, US; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: SEA-LAND EAGLE; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Feb. 26: MALTE B; ASD PIER 5; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: STAR EPSILON; ASD NORTH A 2; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: MARITIME SUZANNE; ASD LIQUID BULK TERMINAL ; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 27: LATMAR; ASD NORTH A 2; BROWNSVILLE-CAMERON COUNTY; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: ALBION BAY; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: CMA CGM NEW JERSEY; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/alabama_state_port_authority_s.html

Mobile business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


We've Moved (Blogs)



Read the latest Mobile business news at al.com/business/mobile, or read all our business news at al.com/business.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/mobile_business_news.html

Books-A-Million sees dollars in ducks, will sell "Duck Dynasty" merchandise


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The Duck Commander display that will be installed in Books-A-Million stores. (Special)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Things are just ducky at Birmingham-based Books-A-Million Inc.

The bookstore chain today announced that its stores will sell more than 40 items from Duck Commander, the line of goods associated with the popular reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”

Camo store displays will be stocked with DVDs, books, t-shirts, hats, key chains and other novelties. The displays also will include duck calls, the product that made the extended Robertson family wealthy and ultimately got them on television.

The show, which is AE’s highest-rated program, follows the antics of the unconventional Louisiana family and its business. The show’s popularity led to the extended Duck Commander product line. On the Duck Commander website duck calls range in price from $24.95 to $179.95.

Jeff Skipper, Books-A-Million vice president of marketing, said the push to sell Duck Commander merchandise is in response to explosive demand.

“We saw a tremendous amount of interest in all things “Duck” during the holiday selling season,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our team made the decision to create a custom, in-store display so that we could give our customers a one-stop-shop for all their favorite Duck Commander gear.”

The displays will be installed in all Books-A-Million stores before the television show begins its third season on Wednesday, the company said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/books-a-million_sees_dollars_i.html

Friday recap: The week’s Alabama business news in review

Alabama business news you may have missed this week:

J.D. Power and Associates releases its 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study.

Best Buy to extend its price matching guarantee to major online competitors.

Communications experts dissect Carnival Cruise Lines’ response to the Triumph debacle.

Vulcan Materials begins blasting on Gurley Mountain.

A Montgomery auto dealer is named vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The Department of Defense considers an alternative to sequestration that would reduce civilian employees’ pay and hours by 20 percent.

HealthSouth saw a 6.7 percent increase in full-year revenue in 2012, generating $2.16 billion in business over the 12-month period.

Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex eagerly awaits the addition of new tenant Airbus.

Work begins on the new Birmingham School of Law.

Investors with Audley Capital Advisors accuse Walter Energy’s leaders of having mismanaged the company.

International Shipholding is preparing a $25 million stock offering.

Lesley McClure, regional executive at the Atlanta Fed’s Birmingham Branch, sees strength in the state’s auto industry.

Alabama’s brewing industry has doubled in size each of the last three years, a new report shows.

AirWalk, a new extreme trampoline arena in metro Birmingham, draws thousands.

Office Depot is set to acquire OfficeMax, a move that may accelerate the closing or selling of stores. The retailers have a combined 32 stores in Alabama.

Alabama’s second annual sales tax holiday for severe weather gear kicks off Friday.

Walmart plans to hire 175 people for two of its Neighborhood Markets opening in Decatur and Florence.

How many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Huntsville is celebrating National Engineers Week.

The Mobile Boat Show kicks off Friday as optimism is again running high in the marine manufacturing industry.

Alabama’s economy supports slightly fewer jobs than it did at the start of 2000. But non-manufacturing jobs have increased.

BAE Systems Ship Repair in Mobile will avoid layoffs.

First Watch, a Bradenton, Fla.-based restaurant chain, is headed for Birmingham.

Winn-Dixie is moving into a space in Inverness Corners vacated by Bruno’s market.

There was a leadership shuffle at Mobile’s White-Spunner Construction Inc.

Express Oil Change Service Center, a Birmingham-based company with operations in 12 states, acquires Tire Engineers.

Ignite Fitness, a Crossfit affiliate, is expanding in Vestavia Hills.

Cahaba Brewing and Hop City unite to make beer backing home brewing law.

Mercedes plant gets a new boss, but it’s a familiar face.

Knology buyer Wow! investing and rebranding in North Alabama.

Divided Birmingham Water Works Board approves $145 million bond deal.

Airbus plant, along with expanding training and infrastructure programs, cited as progress for Accelerate Alabama.

Regions CEO Hall to assume chairmanship in May.


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Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/friday_recap_the_weeks_alabama_1.html

Birmingham business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


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 To get the latest Birmingham-area business news, please visit al.com/business/birmingham. For more business news, visit al.com/business.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, you can find the new feed here.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/birmingham_business_news_has_m.html

Capping contractor reimbursements could have saved up to $440 million last year, White House report says

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Lowering the reimbursement cap for contractors would have
saved the Pentagon up to $440 million last year, according to a new report by
the Government Accountability Office.

The study compared Pentagon costs if the contractor
reimbursement cap was set at two different levels: $400,000, or the same salary
as the president and $230,700, the amount the vice president earns. If the cap
was set at the president’s salary, savings last year would have topped $180
million. That amount grew to $440 million a year if it was set at the
vice-president’s salary.

Currently, salaries are reimbursed based on an
industry-average that’s set annually by the Office of Management and Budget.
According to the GAO, the cap has increased 63 percent since 1998, outpacing
the growth of inflation and the rate of federal salaries.

In 2010, the cap was $693,000. It was raised to $763,000 for
contracts let in 2011 and is expected to rise to $950,000 in the coming weeks.

The study was required as part of the National Defense
Authorization Act. GAO examined 27 Pentagon contractors with employees who have
compensation exceeding the salaries of the president or vice president. Boeing,
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman did not provide the number of employees
with compensation in excess of the president and vice president’s salaries,
according to the GAO report.

Reducing the existing cap to either the president’s or vice
president’s salary would push a large number of those employees past the
proposed limits, the report said. Using 2012 figures, 141 individual employees
exceeded the cap under the current system. That number would have been 616 if
it was based on the president’s salary and grows to 3,444 if based on the
vice-president’s.

“Most affected employees were at large tier companies; few
small tier companies had employees exceeding these caps. While employees with
compensation costs in excess of the existing cap were all identified as
executives by the contractors, reducing the cap would have increasingly
affected compensation costs for individuals below the executive level,” the
report concludes.

Proposals to include the cap on contractor salaries were
rejected
in the recent House vote on the defense authorization bill but efforts
are continuing. Last week, Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Charles
Grassley of Iowa introduced bipartisan legislation that would cap
reimbursements for all federal contractors at $237,000. Identical legislation
was introduced in the House by Reps. Paul Tonko of New York and Jackie Speier
of California.

The legislation is being pushed by federal employee unions,
many of which have members who are facing furloughs due to sequestration
cutbacks.

American Federation of Government Employees
National President J. David Cox Sr. said the House Rules Committee was “subservient to contractors,” in preventing change on salary caps.

“However, contractors
don’t have that protection in the Senate, and now they face a formidable
bipartisan coalition of Senators in Boxer…and Grassley, who have the
audacity to think that the richest federal contractors should be required to
make the same sort of sacrifices American families have been making for years,” he said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/06/capping_contractor_reimburseme.html

Whistleblower protections expanded to include Department of Defense subcontractors

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Whistleblowers who work for Department of Defense
subcontractors will begin receiving protection against reprisals under a new law that’s set
to go into effect July 1.

The new provision is part of the 2013 Defense Authorization
Act. It covers Pentagon subcontractors working on DOD contracts, modified
contracts, grants and task orders, according to Marguerite Garrison, deputy
inspector general for administrative investigations.

“Before when we got a complaint from a subcontractor they
weren’t covered, so we (Office of Inspector General) did not conduct an
investigation,” Garrison said.

The change expands whistleblower protection to all defense
subcontractors, as well as employees who report wrongdoing internally as
opposed to a government agency. A loophole in the previous law did not protect
subcontractors from reprisals if they made their complaint internally – such as
to a supervisor or on a company hotline – as opposed to a government agency.

“What this was before was the subcontractor could make a
claim to his boss — usually internally — and we found that they weren’t making
the disclosure to a government official, they were making it to their
management,” she said in an interview with American Forces Press Service. “Now
they are covered if they make that statement or that complaint to their
management official.”

The new law also expands whom whistleblowers can disclose
the information about waste, fraud or abuse to now include “a court or a grand jury, as well as
management officials or other employees of the contractor or subcontractor who
has the responsibility to investigate, discover or address the misconduct,”
Garrison said.

The stipulations will only apply to existing contracts if
they are modified on or after July 1.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/06/whistleblower_protections_expa.html