Leader Blues

Monday, January 08, 2007

TOP STORY >>Bancroft must eat bad caps

IN SHORT: Cabot firm lays off workers after the Pentagon rejects 340,000 berets because components were not all domestic.

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

The parking lot is empty at Bancroft Cap Co. in Cabot, and a sign on the building says it will soon be for lease.

Owner Barry Goldman has not returned phone calls about whether the December layoff is permanent, though some workers have said privately that they believe it is.

The Department of Defense, which has for many years been Bancroft’s biggest customer, said Bancroft is delinquent in its contract with the DOD to supply black berets for the Army and Air Force. In fact, Bancroft owes the DOD reimbursement for about 340,000 berets delivered before March 2006, which contained some foreign components, making them out of compliance with federal law and unacceptable for soldiers to wear.

Diana Stewart, chief of corporate communications with Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, which is responsible for procuring medicine, clothing and food for the Department of Defense, said the DOD has not paid Bancroft for 4,992 berets delivered in March 2006 that did not contain foreign components.

Instead the money owed to Bancroft was applied to Bancroft’s debt to the DOD, she said.
Stewart said Bancroft’s contract is considered delinquent because 354,504 berets were not shipped on July 15, 2006 as the contract called for.

That shipment of berets was to have been Bancroft’s last for a while because the $14.8 million contract for up to 3.6 million berets, which started in 2002, was up on that date and no more berets are needed at this time.
Exactly when the 340,000 berets containing foreign components were shipped is unclear.

But Stewart said a DSCP contracting officer determined on June 5, 2006 that they were in violation of the Berry Amendment, the federal law that requires military procurement to come from domestic sources.

Stewart said the berets contained either foreign leather or foreign wool since those are the only two components of the berets.

Bancroft is the only supplier of military berets, according to Stewart.