Performance-based energy savings contracts may cost government

Energy savings performance contracts are similar to share-in-savings contracts, which enable agencies to obtain capital more quickly than if they had to go through traditional appropriations. Agencies pay for only part of the cost of capital upfront, because contractors finance the bulk of the investment.
That financing comes with additional costs, because agencies compensate contractors for the cost of borrowing money as well as the risk involved. Contractors collect part of the savings generated from the investment, creating incentives to maximize savings.
Share-in-savings contracts have been gaining momentum lately, despite the controversy that surrounds them. The American Federation of Government Employees and Angela Styles, the former chief of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, have argued that share-in-savings contracts allow agencies to sidestep congressional approval on spending projects, and in the long run, cost the government more money.
This latest GAO report lends some credibility to that view. Largely since the government can borrow money at a lower rate than private companies because the perceived risk is lower, the report found that private sector financing is more expensive. Allowing contractors to finance investments prevents agencies from taking advantage of government's low interest rates.
"The cheapest way to do this is to buy it upfront with appropriated funds, because the government can borrow money more cheaply than anyone else," said Susan Irving, director of federal budget analysis at GAO and co-author of the report.
The question to ask, she said, is whether the savings generated from the capital improvements offset the increase in cost from private sector financing.
Chip Mather, co-founder of Acquisition Solutions, Inc., which consults with federal agencies on acquisition issues, said that in many cases, because the federal budget is so tight, "there is no money to borrow, so many of these programs wouldn't get funded."
When he worked with the Air Force on energy savings contracts in 1978, he said, "We knew we were spending too much money [on energy costs], but we couldn't get the funding" to address the issue. The ability to use private financing, he said, saved the Air Force money.
Mather said he was surprised that the GAO found that private financing could cost up to 56 percent more than government financing. Part of that increase may be caused by paying the contractors' profits in order to compensate them for the risks they are assuming in investing in capital that may or may not generate significant savings, he said.
Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, has been a strong supporter of share-in-savings contracts.
"Share-in-savings contracts represent an innovative, performance-based approach to procurement that encourages industry to share technology and solutions with the government--without large upfront costs to the taxpayer," said Drew Crockett, spokesman for Davis, last month.
Agencies tend to support share-in-savings contracts because they provide more flexibility. In the Defense Department's written response to the report, Philip Grone, principal assistant deputy undersecretary of defense, wrote, "The department is concerned that the draft report reflects an incomplete analysis and an incorrect understanding of the energy savings performance contract program."
Defense officials disagreed with the GAO's recommendation that agencies perform business case analyses to compare financing options. Such analyses "would only translate to an increased administrative cost," they wrote.

Flying circus
Transportation Security Administration screeners discuss the agency's many shortcomings
When the Transportation Security Administration announced it was hiring for McCarran International Airport in the fall of 2002, Mike Linihan thought this was his chance to change his life. The native Las Vegan had put in nearly two decades as a bartender and felt it was time for a new career with more opportunities.
"A lot of people took that job on the point of starting a new career, like I did," Linihan said. "I bartended for almost 20 years and I was at the point where I wanted to get out of that environment. I thought maybe I'd have a fresh start on life, and everybody who took that job thought the same thing."
Linihan, 40, worked as a baggage screener for about a year and half beginning in November 2002, just a month after the TSA took over security at McCarran. (The TSA was created when President George W. Bush signed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act into law on Nov. 19, 2002. It is charged with overseeing security at all of the nation's transportation facilities, chiefly airports.) But the luster of a new opportunity wore off quickly for Linihan and others like him at McCarran.
"Morale was really bad. And it's a shame too, because everyone that took that job had intentions of bettering themselves and their lives," said Linihan, who was fired over scheduling conflicts.
Indeed, reports have come in from all parts of the country about the mismanagement and bureaucracy that is plaguing the 2-and-1/2-year-old agency, which is within the Department of Transportation and a close cousin of the Department of Homeland Security.
Ineffective training, under staffing, injuries, lack of communication and extremely low morale have been reported at airports across the nation.
It's no different here at Las Vegas' airport, which is the third busiest U.S. airport in terms of origination and destination flights (those that start or end here) behind Los Angeles International airport and (Chicago) O'Hare International, according to McCarran officials. And it's the origination and destination flights, rather than connecting flights, that cause the most amount of work for baggage screeners and passenger check points.
This has bred a culture of workers always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Many screeners contacted for this story said they wanted to talk, but were afraid for their jobs. Even with the promise of anonymity, most shied away from speaking out about the behind-the-scenes problems they face.
Many McCarran screeners say they are fed up with low pay (those interviewed for this story made between $12 and $14 per hour), expensive health-insurance premiums, working mandatory overtime, lack of training and exhaustive physical work.
"If you don't manage things right, people leave," said a baggage screener, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job. "I know last year we were loosing five to six people a week from quitting. And it was just insane. And now we're scraping the bottom of the barrel to find people who can pass the tests. It's kind of ugly."
In December, Baltimore Washington International airport TSA passenger screener Ron Moore aired some of the agency's dirty laundry in the Washington Post. Like those at McCarran, Moore started with the TSA when it began. (BWI was the first airport in the nation to have TSA security, beginning in the spring of 2002.)
In the Post piece, Moore, 44, pointed out the agency's lack of training time and quality of training received, as well as mismanagement and lack of collective worker rights. TSA screeners are required to have 44.5 hours of classroom training before starting the job, followed by 60 hours of on-the-job training before becoming certified and then a mandatory three hours of training each week. Moore said he received less than the three requirements each week. Also, 30-minute briefing sessions at the beginning of shifts would be counted as training by management.
Moore is president of the Local 1 of the American Federation of Government Employees. The union is open to all government workers, but Local 1 is specifically for the TSA. Moore said there are a number of Las Vegas screeners in the union. Those screeners could not be reached by press deadline.
"I felt that Congress needs to get involved," Moore said, about why he went to the media with his complaints.
Before going to the media, Moore said he tried to communicate with management. He wrote letters with his grievances. For instance, he said, he wrote management a letter about issues of racism toward black workers.
At McCarran, Linihan said he never witnessed any kind of discrimination but said favoritism and cronyism is rampant.
Since the Post piece ran, Moore said he has felt reprisal from management. He is up for recertification in a week and has been told in so many words that he might not pass.
"I've just been told that I have to be really careful to do really well," Moore said. "I've had a lot of attention paid to me. Some of the trainers are understandably unhappy with me. ... I've had a few occasions where trainers have apparently been assigned to watch just me and step up and correct me as I'm doing my job."
Moore, like Linihan, said he first thought there might be issues with management when he got a call one night that his schedule was changing starting the next day.
"That was my first hint that they could basically manage the workforce in any way they wanted to, with or without a reason," Moore said. "In other words, they didn't need to change my schedule; I was the only one they moved. It didn't really affect anything either way. There was a need to shift things around from time to time just because they could."
The TSA is still struggling to find its security weaknesses while fixing its internal employee relations problems.
In the spring of 2004, reports submitted to the House subcommittee of aviation security and the General Accounting Office showed that the TSA ranks poorly in many areas.
In September 2004, USA Today reported that undercover investigators were able to sneak explosives and weapons past screeners at 15 airports. Likewise, in December the Associated Press reported that baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International airport found a fake bomb planted as a training exercise -- but then failed to prevent it from making the flight to Amsterdam.
Locally, the anonymous screener said he has witnessed egregious errors under the old federal security director that allowed unscreened baggage to make it onto airplanes. He said he saw a lead supervisor working a screening machine without watching the monitor. When bags were being flagged for search, the screener saw the supervisor hit a button to allow it to go through unsearched.
"He [was] hitting the clear button without even looking at the screen and doing his paperwork," the screener said.
Protocol requires all the luggage that goes through the machine to be unloaded from the airplanes and searched again, but that never happened.
Clark said, "Every bag that goes through McCarran is screened. Every checked bag is screened."
But this alleged incident highlights a problem that screeners bring up often. There are rules to be followed, but only when the airport isn't busy. And when screeners see their managers breaking the rules, it isn't long before the bad habits trickle down.
Sometimes, bags may look suspicious -- but if they haven't been flagged through TSA procedures, manager approval is needed to open them.
"What happens is, we get so busy that a manager won't give you approval unless you force the issue, which can be very difficult," the anonymous screener said. "They cut corners because they're so busy and so understaffed and they don't want to make issues out of stuff. I've run into a lot incidents where I'll say, 'I don't care if it creates more work. I'll do the work.'"
Pressure from the airlines and passengers to keep things moving along added to the problem.
"They [TSA] tried to tell us not to worry about the airlines. But the airlines really didn't help the situation either. They were trying to run a business," Linihan said.
One issue is that some airline companies have scapegoated the TSA for baggage-handling problems. Also, some airlines have cut baggage-handler staff (known as "swampers") and put pressure on TSA workers to throw bags on conveyor belts after screening, something that is not their responsibility.
"When we came in, boy, that was a nice little thing for the ticket agents because then we had to swamp all their bags," Linihan said. "We got to this point where we were noticing that they didn't like us because we maybe held things up once in awhile -- but [at] the same time, we saved their bodies in the bumps and bruises and fatigue."
But Clark said the airlines and the TSA are working together.
"Don't forget we regulate the airlines under ... ATSA," he said. "So it's a relationship, a spirit of cooperation, but also one where they understand that we do regulate them."
As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. But metaphorically speaking, the TSA was. It was a response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the inadequacies of the old airport security systems became shockingly apparent.
Many of those hired in the first wave of TSA crews understood that the infant government agency wouldn't be perfect.
Another screener still working at McCarran said he had high hopes for the job and the agency when he started in the fall of 2002.
"At first I thought it was great," said the screener, who requested anonymity. "I thought we were doing a lot of things right and I thought we were going to continue to progress to do things right."
One of the biggest complaints from screeners is under-staffing -- stemming from budget caps, injury, low morale and high turnover.
"There was just too much work for too little people," Linihan said. "... They lost too many people for [because of] bad management."
The TSA staff at McCarran is around 800, while in Los Angeles it's about 2,200. TSA spokesman Nico Melendez cautioned against comparing the two -- but at least one local screener said the disparate numbers between the two airports have hurt morale.
Melendez said, "This is something we need to be very clear on: We're congressionally mandated at a cap of 45,000 screeners nationwide, so we are in a constant state of shuffling and reshuffling our resources because as new technology is placed into one airport [the number of employees needed changes]. So we are constantly re-assessing our need."
Melendez did not have specifics regarding McCarran staffing issues, such as how many screeners are on the injury list, how many are former military personnel, the ratio of men to women, or the average age of the workers.
"When Congress created us as part of ATSA, displaced airline employees and former military were -- in the law -- given priority for these jobs and we did a very effective job of getting former law enforcement, former military, former airline employees all in here," he said. "I think if you were to do a survey of our screener workforce, you would be very surprised at the type of people we have working for us from people with Ph.Ds to [those who] used to be a checker at the supermarket."
One rumor among current screeners at McCarran is that as many as 100 people are on the injury list, further reducing the available workforce.
One factor unique to Las Vegas is the number of well-paying jobs available to those without college degrees. The area's relatively low unemployment rate has hurt local TSA recruiting efforts.
"At one point in time we were understaffed," said Clark. "We were moving towards the mark we wanted -- but given the economy in Las Vegas, it's very difficult at times to bring people on who want to stay on this job. So we've moved now to ... I guess we're getting closer to our goal of full staffing as we would like it, and those numbers are increasing every week."
But what is full staffing? Clark and Melendez refused to be pinned down to a specific number.
"We don't really stick to a specific number, but I can tell you we're in the 800-neighborhood-range of screeners," Melendez said of Las Vegas. "With attrition rates and an increase of flights at different times, it really, really depends on how many people we have working at the airport at any particular time."
Nationwide, TSA's attrition rate is around 20 percent. Melendez wouldn't comment on specifics for McCarran.
However, TSA officials are happy to discuss that its 20-percent rate is far lower than the private screener attrition rates before TSA was created. In July, the Seattle Times reported that in 1987 Seattle airport-screener turnover was about 100 percent and in 1999 it was as high as 126 percent (meaning that the entire workforce changed and partially changed again in a year's time).
Melendez said before the TSA, attrition was more than 300 percent at some airports.
The future looks to be busy for the TSA at McCarran. The airport has been chosen as one of 16 model sites to test and research new technology. At least one type of new technology, which Melendez would not disclose, will be coming to the airport this year for testing.
McCarran's passenger volume set records each month in 2004 (except January). In December, the airports passenger count hit 40 million before the end of the year, the most ever in one year. It is only expected to continue to climb. The UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research's Index of Leading Indicators showed a 12.3-percent increase in last quarter's passenger tallies over the same period last year.
Clark, who worked as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent for more than 20 years and is a Vietnam veteran, said the biggest challenge for McCarran is its passenger volume and inadequate space.
"McCarran is a very large operation. I think right now we're one of the largest airports in the world as far as originations and destination flights. So the volume is great. Certainly, volume is a challenge because we are inhibited by capacity both for our lanes that we operate as well as our equipment, so that's an issue."
At the same time, Las Vegas' potential as a terrorist target may be rising. It is one of four major cities (the others being New York, L.A. and Washington, D.C.) that could be terrorist targets this year, according to a Jan. 12 Newsweek story that cites National Security Agency sources.
The crews of exhausted screeners are hoping that Clark, 58, who came to McCarran in November after serving as the deputy assistant administrator for aviation and as the FSD in El Paso before that, will be their savior. Some screeners have hard feelings about the former FSD.
"Hopefully, this new FSD will square things away -- but who knows," said the anonymous screener.
And regardless of any possible changes in the future, there will still be those like Linihan who wish things could have turned out differently.
"As a whole, a lot of dreams were crushed there," he said.

In Budget Debate, Government Employees Will Have a Lot on the Line
By Stephen Barr

Friday, January 21, 2005; Page B02
P resident Bush, who took the oath of office for a second term yesterday, will kick off this year's debate on spending and policy priorities when he sends his fiscal 2006 budget to Congress in early February. Federal employees and retirees have a huge stake in the outcome of that debate.
To be sure, much of the president's management agenda for the government will remain unchanged. Bush administration officials plan to keep emphasizing the importance of putting federal jobs up for bid as a way to lower costs -- called competitive sourcing -- and to continue championing an initiative that links budget decisions to program performance.
But federal employees will see other, significant workplace changes this year. The Defense and Homeland Security departments are moving away from the decades-old General Schedule pay system and into systems that determine raises according to more rigorous job performance ratings. The 15 agencies in the intelligence community will soon get a new leader and management team.
More important, at least in the short term, may be the budget squeeze that employees will face in their agencies.
Financing the war against terrorism and military operations in Iraq probably will divert funding in fiscal 2006 from domestic agencies to Defense and Homeland Security. Agencies that receive little or no increase in operating funds will find it difficult to expand their workforces, buy the latest technology and improve training for employees.
The federal deficit also will add pressure for budget reductions that could nick federal employees and retirees. For years, the Congressional Budget Office has maintained a list of options -- such as revamping federal health insurance and retirement benefits -- that would produce long-term budget savings.
The National Association of Retired Federal Employees, which has about 400,000 members, says in this month's issue of Retirement Life magazine that NARFE has been warned by congressional allies to expect a difficult year.
According to NARFE officials Judy Park and Dan Adcock, possible budget reductions might include cancellation of cost-of-living adjustments for federal pensions, a smaller government contribution for health insurance premiums, increases in employee retirement contributions and a change in the annuity calculation formula.
Some think tanks that look favorably on the president are urging the administration to scale back spending. The Heritage Foundation, in its 2005 Mandate for Leadership guide to smaller government, offers an array of suggestions, including a recommendation that the administration energize its competitive sourcing initiative.
Bush's 2001 plan for contracting out federal work "has been watered down in response to congressional efforts to protect civil servants and by agency reluctance to make tough choices to improve operations and reduce costs," Heritage fellow Ronald D. Utt writes. He urges the administration to adopt more ambitious competitive sourcing goals.
Office of Management and Budget officials have said they plan to step up efforts to explain the competitive sourcing initiative to members of Congress and to show that projected savings in operating costs can be tracked and achieved. A newly confirmed appointee, David Safavian, will lead the effort at OMB.
In a recent letter to administration appointees, Clay Johnson III, deputy director for management at OMB, applauded progress on achieving the president's management goals but noted that a year-end tally showed four agencies backsliding on some initiatives.
Although implementing Bush's agenda "is hard work," Johnson says, "we are serious about holding departments accountable."
Talk Shows

Phil Glover, president of the American Federation of Government Employees' National Council of Prisons, will be the guest on "FEDtalk" at 11 a.m. today on
Marion C. Blakey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, will be the guest on the "IBM Business of Government Hour" at 9 a.m. tomorrow on WJFK radio (106.7 FM).
"Ready for President Bush's Second Term?" will be the topic of discussion on the Imagene B. Stewart call-in program at 8 a.m. Sunday on WOL radio (1450 AM).

But search for 4 is downplayed
By Kelly Thornton
January 20, 2005
Authorities are investigating claims by an anonymous caller that he smuggled Chinese chemists across the international border here who intend to detonate a "dirty bomb" in Boston.
In attempts to determine the caller's credibility, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego was trying to locate a tunnel in Imperial County identified by the smuggler as a route for either the Chinese nationals or for the nuclear material, San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne said yesterday.
Other agencies declined to comment on the possibility of a tunnel.
Federal officials marveled at the media-fueled frenzy created by one uncorroborated tip, and they downplayed the situation, saying they receive scores of similar calls every day around the country.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney decided to cut short his visit to Washington, D.C., for President Bush's inauguration.
FBI officials in San Diego, where the investigation began, said they are investigating the claims but are skeptical because the caller refused to give his name or meet with agents. They said parts of his story are far-fetched, noting that it would be highly unlikely that terrorists would reveal their plans to a smuggler. And they speculated that a smuggler might have other motives for the call, such as getting rid of competition by exposing a rival's tunnel.
"We are working very aggressively to resolve this situation as soon as possible," said FBI spokeswoman Jan Caldwell. "Yes, this is alarming and, yes, it requires – and is getting – immediate attention. At the same time, let's not run out of San Diego and Boston with our hair on fire. We literally have an army of people around this nation working on leads."
Lansdowne said he was informed by the multiagency Joint Terrorism Task Force that the smuggler may have used a tunnel about 120 miles east of San Diego. But, he said, those reports were unconfirmed.
Lansdowne said he was told that four to six people had crossed the border and were on their way to Boston, and that there were unconfirmed reports that they "may attempt to make some sort of dirty bomb."
Unlike nuclear warheads designed to kill and destroy using a huge blast and heat, a dirty bomb uses conventional explosives to spread radioactive material to sicken and kill people and make an area uninhabitable.
Sources said the FBI and the task force began investigating the smuggler's call, which was received by the California Highway Patrol early in the week. The caller claimed he had helped four Chinese nationals who told him they were expecting to receive some nuclear material in Boston. The sources asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the case.
The caller failed to show up for a meeting with federal agents but left photographs of four Chinese men and some names at a prearranged drop site at the border. The items were thrown over the border fence.
Those photographs and names were released yesterday by federal officials in Boston. FBI agents notified law enforcement officials to be on the lookout for the four Chinese nationals described as possible terror suspects who may be headed to the Boston area.
Authorities said none of the names had been on previous watch lists of terror suspects. The suspects were identified as Zengrong Lin, Wen Quin Zheng, Xiujin Chen and Guozhi Lin.
Lansdowne said he called the Boston FBI for further information.
"They don't see it as anything other than an uncorroborated report and they're trying to run it down," he said.
He said the information has not prompted a change in security levels here.
"There's nothing to do to increase security, no real information to look for anyone," Lansdowne said. "We're on our standard operating procedures as we speak right now."
FBI and Homeland Security officials declined to answer questions about when, where and how the group supposedly entered the United States.
"We are aware this information has been received and we are working closely with the FBI to resolve the matter as quickly as possible," said Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division in San Diego.
In Boston, Romney cautioned that the threats were unsubstantiated and uncorroborated. "We have had threats in the past. We take them seriously, even when they're not corroborated," he said.
Romney said the state's threat level would not be raised, but more people would be on duty in the state's emergency management bunker outside Boston.
"To assure the people of Boston and Massachusetts that it is safe to be at home, I am going to be sleeping in my bed in Massachusetts tonight and I feel perfectly safe doing so," Romney said. "In the very remote circumstance that my attention is needed, I will be able to respond on an immediate basis."
Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the agency was working with the FBI and intelligence officials to investigate "this uncorroborated report from an unknown source with unknown reliability."
Roehrkasse said he was not aware of any stepped-up federal security measures in Boston such as extra patrols or measures taken at Logan International Airport.
Some Border Patrol agents said supervisors have told them nothing of the situation and they were not asked to be on the lookout for the Chinese nationals.
"This highlights the shortfalls of our immigration system," said T.J. Bonner, president of the San Diego-based National Border Patrol Council, the agents' union. "For years I've been saying, 'Look, if it's so easy for laborers from Mexico and other countries to sneak across our borders, think about how much easier it is for highly trained well-funded terrorists to do the same thing.' "
A Border Patrol spokesman referred calls to the FBI.
Bonner said details were hard to come by and people were clamoring for information yesterday.
"If, in fact, this is credible information, the public should be aware of it, not in a panic mode but they should be aware this is a real threat, that people have penetrated our borders," Bonner said.
Bonner said the fact the caller won't give his name is understandable and should not detract from his credibility.
"If you say, 'Yeah, I did this,' and these people carry out an attack, it's very likely you are going to be implicated as an accomplice. I can see where he'd be very reluctant to come forward. Which leads me to believe this smuggler believes the information is credible or he would not have stepped forward."

Federal investigation continues into 'dirty bomb' tip

By Leslie Berestein
January 21, 2005
Federal law enforcement officials yesterday had not corroborated an anonymous tip received this week from an alleged smuggler who claimed he helped four Chinese nationals – and potential terrorists – enter the country near San Diego.
However, the FBI did add 10 names to the list of people being sought for questioning about possible plans for a "dirty bomb" attack on Boston. Those names included nine Chinese individuals and one other man.
The photographs and names of the original four – two men and two women – were released Wednesday by federal authorities in Boston. Two Iraqis were also being sought for questioning.
Authorities said the tipster called the California Highway Patrol and claimed to have smuggled four Chinese chemists into the country. They said a tunnel in the Imperial Valley may have been used. The caller claimed the foursome had told him they were expecting a shipment of nuclear material that would follow them from Mexico to Boston.
Most law enforcement officials have said that although the tip is being taken seriously and leads are being investigated, there is room for skepticism.
"The FBI and law enforcement officials frequently receive uncorroborated tip information from sources whose reliability is yet to be determined, and that is exactly what we have here," said Dan Dzwilewski, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Diego office.
He added that "we are still very much in the middle of this investigation."
The tipster left the names and photos of four Chinese nationals for agents at a drop site, but refused to meet with them, leading officials to question the legitimacy of his claims. There were also questions about his motives.
But T.J. Bonner, the San Diego-based head of the National Border Patrol Council, the agents union, didn't see the tipster's reticence as unusual under the circumstances.
"If that person meets with you, you are going to put the cuffs on that person, and if something happens that is the person you can prosecute," Bonner said. "It could be a hoax, but you can't just dismiss it out of hand. We know how porous the borders are."
Joint Terrorism Task Forces in San Diego and Boston, composed of federal, state and local agencies, were investigating the allegations. In Boston, a spokesman for the mayor's office said local authorities were "operating with vigilance."
In Mexico, authorities said they were cooperating with U.S. investigators and checking out the tip on their side of the border. Officials from the Agencia Federal de Investigacion said two tunnels found in recent years leading out of Mexicali toward the United States had been closed off on the Mexican side, and no indication existed they were being used.
FBI officials in San Diego and Boston said that as of yesterday afternoon there had been no arrests. In both cities, agency officials said they were disappointed with the flurry of media coverage that yesterday had the Boston area abuzz.
"This information was prematurely leaked to the media," said Jan Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the FBI in San Diego. "It's unfortunate because it has been very injurious to our investigation. There is more information out there than there should be."
One concern, Dzwilewski said, is that if terrorists were indeed headed for Boston, they might not be now.
"People can alter their plans," he said.

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