The United States Department of Defense's Office of Net Assessment (ONA) was created in 1973 by Richard Nixon to serve as the Pentagon's "internal think tank" that "looks 20 to 30 years into the military's future, often with the assistance of outside contractors, and produces reports on the results of its research". The Director of Net Assessment is the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on net assessment.
Apparently ONA was used to launder payments to high level, or supposedly high level, CIA operatives. Like Stefan Halper, who was paid over a million dollars by the Obama administration through ONA for doing only God knows what.
This could signal a major expansion of Durham's investigation, as Carter suggests: Durham Probe Expands to Pentagon Office That Contracted FBI Spy Stephan Halper, although "FBI spy" is probably not the most accurate characterization. I suspect Halper was more or less on loan to the FBI. Here's what Carter's sources have told her:
Justice Department prosecutor U.S. Attorney John Durham is questioning personnel connected to the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, which awarded multiple contracts to FBI informant Stephan Halper. Halper, who was informing the bureau on Trump campaign advisors, is a central figure in the FBI’s original investigation into President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, SaraACarter.com has learned.
These latest developments reveal the expansive nature of what is now a Justice Department criminal probe into the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign. ...
Multiple sources confirmed to this news site that Durham has spoken extensively with sources working in the Office of Net Assessment, as well as outside contractors, that were paid through Pentagon office.
Senator Chuck Grassley is also in on the action. Grassley now heads the Senate Finance Committee, which has learned that--get ready for this--ONA kept sloppy records about their payments. As if a money laundering operation for CIA sources would keep in depth and accurate records! That would violate deniability, which is a far higher bureaucratic principle than the Constitutional principle of Legislative oversight. Carter reports:
Moreover, this news site has learned that the Pentagon has finally sent Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s committee the information it requested in July, regarding Halper’s contracts and the Office of Net Assessment. Grassley sent the request in a letter to Department of Defense Acting Secretary Mark Esper, after a Pentagon Inspector General investigation discovered that the office failed to conduct appropriate oversight of the contracts. Grassley urged Esper for the information.
According to the DoD Inspector General’s report the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) Contracting Officer’s Representatives (CORs) “did not maintain documentation of the work performed by Professor Halper or any communication that ONA personnel had with Professor Halper; therefore, ONA CORs could not provide sufficient documentation that Professor Halper conducted all of his work in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. We determined that while the ONA CORs established a file to maintain documents, they did not maintain sufficient documentation to comply with all the FAR requirements related to having a complete COR.”
Grassley’s July letter stated that “shockingly, the audit found that these types of discrepancies were not unique to contracts with Professor Halper, which indicates ONA must take immediate steps to shore up its management and oversight of the contracting process.”
I love that "shockingly"!
The Office of Net Assessment came under fire in 2016, when Bill Gertz, a columnist for The Washington Times, revealed that it failed to produce the top-secret net assessments the office was established to do for more than a decade, despite its then nearly $20 million annual budget.
In August, a Pentagon Inspector General report revealed that the office failed to document the research Halper had conducted for the Pentagon in four separate studies worth roughly $1 million. The inspector general’s report revealed that loose contracting practices at the office and failed oversight was to blame.
"Loose contracting practices." How's that for a euphemism? This could be fun.
ADDENDUM: Here's a good recent article re Halper and ONA, by Eric Felten: The Labyrinthine Ways and Wages of Stefan Halper. Felten's article is both informative and hilarious. There's lots more out there on this topic.