Lang Blog part 1

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What caused the Failure of the BAASS - MUFON SIP Program ?


MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), was the largest international UFO research organization in the world. The STAR Team was a Rapid Response UFO Investigation Unit, that was funded by a special program within MUFON known as the SIP Project.

During the period from February 2009 until the end of January 2010, I served as the STAR Team Manager and SIP Project Coordinator. 

This investigative program came to an unexpected end in January of 2010.

Since then, I have received countless phone calls and email requests, asking me to explain or confirm details about the SIP project.  Rumors floating around the internet have caused many questions to come to the surface about the controversy that surrounded the SIP Project and it's premature ending. I currently do not have any official association with the MUFON organization. I am no longer a member of MUFON or an employee.

It is not my intention to finger-point or accuse anyone. I will admit that I do not completely understand the motivations of some of the individuals that played roles in MUFON Board leadership. I do not know what they were thinking, but I do know a lot about what happened!

The following pages reflect the facts and occurrences as I remember them, from my perspective and will help one understand what went wrong.

Richard Lang


The STAR Team Impact Project (SIP) was a MUFON program funded in part by Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS), where MUFON was subcontracted to provide information about witness reports related to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) from the CMS data base (website) directly to BAASS.

MUFON had a contract with BAASS (per the terms of the contract agreement) MUFON provided data from sighting reports that were submitted to MUFON CMS website, in exchange for BAASS paying funds directly to MUFON each month. This Contract was sometimes referred to as a Purchase Agreement (purchase of information) and the project was referred to as the SIP Project (STAR Team Impact Project).

Part of this money was used to directly fund the STAR TEAM, which consisted of paid investigators who would be deployed to investigate the most compelling cases and a dispatch operation that would work continuous shifts to monitor the activity of the cases coming into the CMS website. 

It is not my propose herein to discuss the actual SIP Project cases or the impact the SIP Project Investigators and the Dispatch Operators had on the MUFON organization. Most of you have looked at the cases, read the reports, seen the articles in the MUFON Journal and have decided for yourself about the worth of the SIP Project.

In General I believe that the management at BAASS was very satisfied (at least from an operational standpoint)  with the quality of the reporting (data sent to them) and investigative work performed by our SIP Project Investigators.

Information Provided to BAASS / BAASS access to CMS

Shortly after the start of the SIP project, MUFON CMS was modified to include the "third party Release Agreement Question"  which comes up during the initial internet submission of every sighting report.  This question allows the witness to decide if they want to have their personal contact information released to third parties like BAASS. (Note: you can see this question directly under the witness narrative section).

Those individuals (witnesses) who chose to answer "YES" to release of their contact information to third parties, essentially agreed to having their contact information shared with third parties and would be subject to being contacted by such third parties as BAASS. Note: witnesses answered YES in about 95% of case reports.

(NOTE: Witnesses were never informed that their private information was being SOLD to a third party. ED)

BAASS was given full access (password and user ID) to the CMS data base, in all the cases where the witness answered "YES" to the "third party release question" and their investigators could see all that case information in CMS including witness contact information.

(NOTE: BAASS Investigators were independently investigating UAP events reported to them by MUFON witnesses. BAASS is a private research organization and they did not share their proprietary information and research with MUFON.   (This alone violates the Non-Profit status of MUFON.  ED)

Note: BAASS Investigators were independently investigating UAP events reported to them by MUFON witnesses. BAASS is a private research organization and they do not share their proprietary information and research with MUFON. 

MUFON also provided data to BAASS about significant events that were reported in CMS. These events were identified by the Dispatch operators and reported via email by me to BAASS as they developed (and summarized in a weekly report which was sent to BAASS and selected Board members). 

A Significant Reportable Event would be (for example) multiple witnesses reporting  an object within close proximity, or a case report submitted by a trained observer like a Pilot, Police officer or Air Traffic Controller. Any landing case or one that involves possible physical evidence would be passed along as well.

Upon completion of every SIP Project Investigation the final complete investigative reports were also shared with BAASS. I reviewed all the reports and signed off on them.

A conference call was facilitated Between MUFON and BAASS every Friday to discuss the weekly report, review cases and discuss issues between the two organizations. I facilitated this conference call every week. Sometimes James Carrion, Jan Harzan and Chuck Reever (who were also MUFON Board members) participated in these calls. Chuck Modlin was Chief Technical Advisor for the STAR Team and he was on most of the calls as well. Modlin and I were not on the Board.

FUNDING for the SIP Project

Funding for the project was initiated at the beginning of March 2009 when the first check was sent from BAASS to MUFON in the amount of $56,000 for the month of MARCH. (I cannot state the exact date but I remember the first check came to MUFON HQ sometime during the last week in Feb.2009).  The SIP Project was actually not operational until the first week in April 2009, however I am sure some of that funding was used for the ramp up costs associated with the project.  

The SIP Project ran for 10 months. During that time we deployed on (investigated) about 65 SIP cases. We also sent data in the form of Significant Reportable Events (about 25 per month) to BAASS as well.  At last count we had about 80 STAR Team contract Investigators and 8 Dispatchers. 

(From the IRS: You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed. ED.)

Confidentially Agreement / Secret Side

From the onset there has always been this misconception about the SIP Project, the idea that there was some kind of secret side to the program. I have repeatedly defended the SIP Project at least from the operational standpoint (which I managed) in terms of complete disclosure of all investigative data developed for the project, during the time I managed the project.

Each Investigator and Dispatch operator was asked to sign a confidentially agreement that required strict confidentiality in force during the deployment and no media communication. The agreement also states that information and data from a SIP case that is published in the MUFON Journal can be considered available publicly and is released from the restrictions in the agreement. (see Appendix - C)

Note: All STAR Team deployment (cases investigated) were put in CMS and Published In the Journal after completion. According to the confidentially agreement they are public information.

(NOTE: BAASS kept their property/cases and the 65 cases were NOT ever published in the MUFON UFO Journal. ED)

Financial Issues that lead to the demise of the SIP Project

As indicated in previous updates, I managed the SIP project as far as operations, Dispatch, Deployments and Investigations.  I did not have responsibility for the financial management and did not have direct access to the bank accounts or accounting.

The Contract Agreement provided for the amount of $56,000 to be paid to MUFON each month. It was initiated at the end of February 2009 and ran through the end of February 2010. It was a one year agreement with performance reviews every 4 months, the first being in June 2009 and then again in Oct 2009. Provisions were made for merit-based increases in funding  as well as for BAASS or MUFON to cancel the agreement. 

In total, MUFON received only about $324,000 from BAASS SIP Project, which was a little less than half of the original contract deal that could have paid a total of $672,000 in the first year to MUFON.

MUFON Board ultimately left over half of the allocated SIP Project funding on the table, leaving  MUFON almost broke, having to close the office in Fort Collins and lay off the last of the remaining two employees.

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