The Pentagon Procurement Scandal was a late Reagan-era scandal that erupted when it was discovered that defense contractors were kicking back millions of dollars to government officials in exchange for military contracts.

The news broke in 1988 and the indictments trickled out through 1990 or so. Politics of the 1980s were filled with this sort of scandal, with WedTech, Tower Financial, and of course Iran-Contra being other highly visible examples.

Blow-jobs, the major theme of Clinton-era scandal, were apparently not involved. (However, see Gary Hart and Jim Bakker for sex scandals from the Reagan years).

The Pentagon Procurement Scandal affected me personally in an unexpected way. I had been offered a summer job at Los Alamos National Laboratory, with a lab division that developed high end computers and did modelling work for the Pentagon. However, the man who ran the group disappeared in the months between the offer and when I started work. The remaining group members suspected that he had been giving kickbacks to the Air Force in exchange for work but he was never, to the best of my knowledge, formally accused of this.

This left me in Los Alamos for three months with a lab ID badge and without any supervision. What a great time! I got a lot of work done too, though not in any area that could have been useful to my group. Instead, in connection with a project back at school, I raided the lab's library for information about an obscure chemical reaction that was of interest to me. Then, on a pile of hardware that would probably still be impressive today, I coded a model of the reaction and ran it all night long, night after night.

That model, and my writeup about it, won a lot of impressive awards the next year. It got me into college, won me scholarships to help pay for it, and most amusingly, got me another job offer from Los Alamos. The new group was doing work related to this obscure chemical reaction and never knew that the original model had been developed in my unsupervised hours in another part of the lab.

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