One Rotten Apple?

Cue up the "Law and Order" music.

It appears justice has been served in the case of Anjan Dutta-Gupta, who allegedly paid more than $8 million in kickbacks to pad his company's Naval contracts. Dutta-Gupta agreed to plead guilty in a federal court to bribery of a public official.

Ralph Mariano, a civilian program manager and senior systems engineer with the Naval Sea Systems Command, also has been charged for allegedly participating in the kickback scheme. Mariano, of course, is innocent until proven guilty and has not been convicted as of the time of this posting.

According to court documents, in exchange for kickbacks of millions of dollars from 1996 through 2011, Mariano allegedly took steps to ensure that Dutta-Gupta's company, Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow (ASFT), received payment on invoices submitted, and that additional funds were added to existing ASFT contracts when needed.

My question to you: Is this an example of one rotten apple, or does this kind of thing go on more than we think?

I'd like to believe that the majority of the men and women in our armed forces, whether they're fighting wars or procuring the munitions and goods needed to fight those wars, are beyond reproach. And I'd like to believe that the contractors who support that important mission also are acting with the highest levels of integrity.

But I also know that money can make even the most honest and upright people act irrationally sometimes.

So, how common are kickbacks in the world of defense contracting? And if it is a problem, how can we change it?

I'd love to know what you think.

Senior Editor Josh Cable covers the automotive, aerospace, maritime and rail manufacturing sectors for IndustryWeek. Follow him on Twitter at @JCable_IW.

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