Post picks up on MZM/NGIC/Scott Rich story.

In today’s Washington Post, Walter Pincus picks up on the all-too-cozy relationship between Charlottesville’s National Ground Intelligence Center and the scandal-ridden MZM, Inc., specifically the matter of Scott Rich. (It was Pincus who first discovered that former NGIC executive director William Rich had taken a job with MZM.)

Pincus, because he’s a journalist and I’m not, has looked into the specifics of the relationship between MZM and NGIC with regard to William RIch and his son, Scott. According to the Army, the connections were properly vetted:

The senior Rich “was not involved in matters concerning MZM’s work at the NGIC except in the normal way of the executive director’s responsibility to oversee all the programs run at the facility,” according to a statement by Deborah Parker, chief of public affairs for the Army Intelligence and Security Command, which oversees the NGIC.

When the younger Rich was hired by MZM, “in line with joint ethics regulations, [Rich senior] was required to inform his superiors and recuse himself from dealing with the [MZM] company,” Parker’s statement said. Parker did not provide the date Rich recused himself.


When the senior Rich resigned from the NGIC in September 2003, he joined MZM as a senior executive vice president for intelligence. “The circumstances of Mr. Rich’s employment with MZM were thoroughly reviewed by Army officials,” according to Parker, and “no evidence of impropriety was found.”

The Ethics in Government Act barred Rich, as a senior manager, from having dealings with the NGIC for one year after his employment by MZM.

So while, yes, Rich did go straight to MZM from NGIC, that is apparently not prohibited — it’s only then doing business with NGIC that’s prohibited. MZM can do business with NGIC. Just not Rich.

An old friend of mine is also a long-time friend of William Rich. He called me up a few days ago to talk about this. He pointed out just what Walter Pincus has pointed out — Rich is wholly within the letter of the law and, to his perception, a good guy. FWIW.

All of this points to the larger matter of the relationship between MZM and NGIC. As Pincus writes, the lines between MZM and NGIC are very blurry. NGIC employees are lured away by MZM with higher salaries, and put right back on the projects they were on while employed by NGIC. This is probably illegal, but it’s very fuzzy:

The Ethics in Government Act’s standards differ for executives, managers and workers who leave government employment and take up the same work as a private contractor. But agency leaders once engaged in awarding contracts are barred from then seeking contracts from the same agency.

If a former intelligence center’s employee recruited an ex-colleague on behalf of a private contractor such as MZM, the recruiter’s status and rank would be factors in determining whether an ethics violation had occurred.

And, of course, there remains the matter of MZM hiring Scott Rich while his father was the head of MZM, overseeing the very contract that brought about Scott’s hiring. Illegal? I have no idea. Improper? Quite likely.

Two points to Walter Pincus and the Post for tenacity on this. I’ll hold onto a couple more points for the reporter who digs into the relationship between the Foxfield Races and the fallen Rep. Randy Cunningham. There’s a bonus point for figuring out what Rep. Virgil Goode has to do with it all. And, y’know, you can redeem those points for a personal pan pizza at participating Pizza Huts.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

10 replies on “Post picks up on MZM/NGIC/Scott Rich story.”

  1. Which part of the passage suggests that people moving from NGIC to a private
    contractor is “probably illegal” as you claim? Reading your post, one is left
    to assume that you’ve found some probable violation of the Ethics in Government Act.
    What’s the violation?

  2. Actually, I said it’s “very fuzzy,” indicating that it is not at all clear to me or, apparently, to others. And here, again, is your answer:

    If a former intelligence center’s employee recruited an ex-colleague on behalf of a private contractor such as MZM, the recruiter’s status and rank would be factors in determining whether an ethics violation had occurred.

    I remind you that you insisted a month ago that only “a yellow journalist” would investigate the MZM/Goode story “until somebody gives them a clue.” Assuming that you’re the same person, your pseudonymity combined with your lack of credibility isn’t giving me a lot of incentive to give much weight to your comments.

  3. A violation doesn’t neccessarily occur when a former government employee is hired by a contactor. A violation occurs if a former government employee is hired by a contractor to work on the same project as she (or he) worked when they were a government employee. I think the idea is to ensure former employees don’t return as contractors and essentially re-take charge of projects they worked on as gov’t employees, or exercise ongoing influence in their former offices. As Waldo said, much of this is very fuzzy appearing to those of us on the outside, and the article indicates there is an ongoing Dept of Justice (or FBI, I don’t remember) investigation. To me, it all looks pretty dicey, but only time will tell

  4. OK, so 1) It’s “very fuzzy” but “probably illegal.” Gotcha.
    2) You keep trying to somehow paint Goode with the Duke Cunningham brush, even though
    all Virgil did was accept campaign contributions. Try as you might, you can’t
    get away with throwing MZM mud on everyone and hope that it sticks. It just
    doesn’t work that way.
    And 3) Now you’re falling back on attacking anonymity instead of backing up the
    claim? That’s pretty weak.

    If you’re going to say that a law was “probably” broken, have a little bit more to
    go on than wishful conjecture. That’s the point that seems to be eluding you.

  5. Until the FOIA request regarding MZM/Goode relations is satisfied, there’s nothing to do but wait. This MZM scandal is just getting underway.

    Backing up what claim? You keep trying to accuse me of making things up, but everything is very well documented. If you want to accuse me of having a different opinion than you, why don’t you get go yourself a blog so we can all not read it?

  6. Did the same friend of Mr. Rich mention that Mr. Rich, while the Director at the NGIC, scolded the government employee that was overseeing MZM contracts that was having issue with his son Scott Rich. Is that not getting involved? I wish I personally had more information on this. Also, why has all of the contracts out of the NGIC gone on the Pentagons MZM BPA (How many millions of $$ ?). The FIRES contract being the first, which the government program manager (Mr. Fromm sp?), went to go work for MZM (on homeland security of course) shortly after FIRES was completely moved to MZM. Oh, and his son started working for them as well…

    The gov’t needs to recompete all of the contracts released under the BPA, and not allow MZM to be purchased.

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