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Defense Cover-up Management Agency (DCMA) – Part 1

Former DCMA employee and US Air Force MSgt Keven L. Barnes at the original US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq

This is Part 1 in a series of original articles to be published on MsSparky.com by former DCMA QAR Keven L. Barnes discussing his personal experiences with the oversight of KBR’s LOGCAP III contract.

We all know Dick Cheney’s agenda when he directed the LOGCAP III contract be sole sourced and awarded to KBR. KBR’s LOGCAP III contract has been tainted with accusations of fraud, waste, abuse and rape. They are accused of overcharging the US Government and contract violations. Most disturbingly KBR is accused of exposing hundreds of US National Guard troops to deadly toxins at Qarmat Ali. They are accused of negligence in exposing hundreds if not thousands of troops and civilians to deadly burn pit smoke and they are accused of shoddy electrical work that has killed soldiers and more than likely civilians as well. We are just now realizing who their accomplices to these allegations are. The corruption, ineptness, and cover-up by both the U.S. Army and the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) have contributed to KBR’s ability to commit these acts of fraud, waste and abuse over and over again.

I was in my 21st year with the U.S. Air Force.  I had worked for the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) while deployed and put on Active Duty with the U.S. Air Force Reserves IMA  (Individual Mobilization Augmentee) program. I had served previously in the Active Duty Air Force, the California Air National Guard, and finally in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. I discovered DCMA had only 3 Master Sergeant (MSgt) slots for the entire United States. As a MSgt myself, I felt the odds of landing a DCMA position was slim. The DCMA had a program called the Contingency Contracting Administration Services (CCAS) and it would allow me to deploy to Iraq. I volunteered for this program. I wanted to be in the heart of it in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq and I wanted to be there for Christmas 2004.

After I arrived in the Green Zone I learned my assignment was to oversee the KBR LOGCAP III contract. They sent me as a Contracts Administrator. But, because an unlimited warrant was needed (the authorization to approve contract actions needed an unlimited dollar authority – which I did not have) I ended up working with U.S. Air Force Major Jimmy Hammonds in Operations and assisted Contracting Officer, Navy Lt., Russell Baum.

DCMA wrote Letters Of Technical Direction (LOTD) which were nothing more than open checkbooks to KBR. LOTD’s were written for any item that was floated and approved by the State Department Liaison Officer, Harold Price. I must have heard the speech a hundred times. DCMA supported 1700 organizations in the Green Zone and 60 cents on the dollar was going for life-support services that KBR was contracted to do. This included living accommodations, trailers, water,  5 DFACs (Dining Facilities), soft cars, hard cars (armored) with maintenance and fuel, offices, office supplies and equipment, and so on. 40 cents on the dollar was spent in the Green Zone on the military.  As a part of their support contracts KBR supported the DCMA as well. This conflict if interest is established.

Aftermath of Iraq car bomb (Courtesy of Keven L. Barnes)

Car bombs went off at a rate of  2 or 3 times each morning and rockets and mortars rained in daily. We had a new Quality Assurance Representative (QAR), named John Golden. He had just arrived in the Green Zone in early January. I advised him if KBR needed to have something signed off at one of the 6 Green Zone checkpoints, it would be wise not to go in the mornings because the car bombs went off daily in the morning. “Maybe go in the afternoon” I recommended. 45 minutes later at approximately 3:30pm  a huge car bomb went off at a nearby checkpoint. He gave me an odd look and I said, “Maybe that isn’t such a good time either.”  The “insurgents” were targeting the Green Zone checkpoints trying to kill Iraqi workers who were working for American companies in the Green Zone and they were succeeding.

At first people would dive under desks at every car bomb, mortar and rocket. But and after a couple of weeks, we didn’t even miss a keystroke. We would turn our air conditioning up and pull our body armor over for a blanket. The only time we might get running was if giant footsteps were approaching which were mortars getting “walked in” – then it was time to get moving.

The morning of the January 29, 2005, was the day of Iraq’s first elections and I had to hand it to them – they kept voting despite vest bombers going off in the lines. By 10 AM I heard 80 vest bombers blow up within earshot of the Republican Palace in the Green Zone and it continued all day. Early that evening I heard what I thought was an F-15 fly across the top of my trailer.  This was no F-15, it was a rocket, but unlike other rockets I had seen there was no flash as it disappeared into the side of the South wing of the U.S. Embassy. This rocket flew in from over 9 miles away and killed civilian Barbara Heald and Navy Lt CDR Keith Taylor . That rocket came in at a high angle and ricocheted off the floor and killing Ms. Heald. It ricocheted again hitting the Lt Commander killing him and injuring several others.

The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) worked out of the room adjacent to Ms. Heald. DCMA Commander Colonel Miles ordered anything with blood on it was to be burned in the KBR Burn Pit located in the Green Zone and DCMA QAR John Golden was to oversee it. John Golden was left unprotected wearing only his body armor, in the open and exposed to the “other” side of the Tigris River. Known to all of us as “The Red Zone”.  It took 3 long days to dispose of the the bloody refuse. At this point Mr. John Golden chose to resign.

It was then I was appointed the lone DCMA Quality Assurance Representative (QAR) for the entire Green Zone. I didn’t think DCMA could be too serious about oversight if I was being appointed to take over the duty. I receive no training and no instructions. I was just the token DCMA QAR. There were 42 KBR Statement of Procedures (SOP) I was apparently required to inspect. Unsure of what I was required to do to perform these task, I contacted two QAR’s from Camp Victory.  They gave me the checklists they used and said just inspect to those standards.

When I initially tried to inspect KBR’s compliance with the 42 SOP’s, KBR’s own Contract Administrator Taryk Ferris tried to inform me “KBR really didn’t agree to that. Those SOP’s were just sort of advisory.” Evidently that tactic had worked in the past. When I discussed this KBR response with my QAR counterparts from Camp Victory, they pointedly informed Mr. Ferris and the KBR Project Manager there would be inspections and they needed to get ready. As I listened to this conversation (actually it was more of a scolding) I was thinking “Get ready?”.  Being inspected to the SOP’s was apparently a new and disturbing concept to KBR. I wondered just how long the DCMA had NOT been inspecting KBR to the SOPs? What had the previous QARs been doing? Apparently nothing if KBR somehow thought that 42 Statement of Procedures (SOP’s) were only “suggestions”? I experienced first hand how KBR wanted me to sign off on inspections over a cup of coffee.  I was asked to sign off on 9 smoke detectors in US Ambassador Negroponte’s villa – that were never installed. How hard was that to get done? Two screws or self-adhesive and they simply were not there and yet I was expected to sign it off as complete. I saw project after project not completed.

I think that is enough for my introductory post at MsSparky.com. I have volumes to share and I have the documents and photos to support my claims. Nothing classified of course. If anyone thinks KBR has had adequate oversight on their LOGCAP III contract they are sorely mistaken.

Read Defense Cover-up Management Agency (DCMA) – Part 2 HERE

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13 Comments

  1. Comment by bucca777:

    Sparky you are going all out on this one. Very interesting reading so far. Keep it coming i cannot wait to read about the tales that are about to be told.

  2. Comment by thesilentone:

    This is going to get real good, real fast!

    Tell it like it is Kevin.

  3. Comment by Keven Barnes:

    Thanks Pam. I was told I was being too tough on KBR and DCMA was scrambling to get an obedient replacement as fast as possible. The story gets better. Stay tuned. I hope that the Marines who I felt were our last line of defense, and everyone who served in the Green Zone finds the story interesting and it may provide them answers to physical symptoms they may have suffered and was written off and joked about as “normal.”

    • Comment by justice4all:

      Kevin – thanks so much for your insight and please know that the families of the deceased and injured appreciate all you have provided thus far. We look forward to reading much more….I would be interested to see if Ms. Sparky would give you my email.

      • Comment by Keven Barnes:

        You’re welcome Justice.

        The Marines never complained, and lived in pretty tight conditions in the basement of the Palace and certainly deserved DCMA to have all processes that KBR was getting paid for to be at 100% and that was DCMA’s job to make that happen.

        Anyone remember this event? Early 2005 – KBRs lack of keeping the sewage pipes clean allowed for a backup in a rainstorm and it flooded the basement of the U.S. Embassy with 2 feet of sewage water. Our Military Pay Office was located there as was Saddam’s 30 – seat theater. That was home for the Marines and made our workplace like being on farm.

        I hope your lawyers get some ammunition and the Supreme Court read Ms Sparky. We can only hope they get another perspective.

  4. Comment by Jim:

    My co-workers and I always thought it was funny that the total of 8 of us representing our company in Kuwait got audited twice a year. We lived on camp, and had more rules than most around us, yet they went through our time sheets and paperwork like they were reading the bible.
    I’d talk to the other contracters at the site that worked for much bigger companies, that had company vehicles, and an apartment in the city, never got touched not even when the auditors were on site. It took about 4 years before they were even touched, and when they were they were touched softly.

  5. Comment by scott:

    I just finished a year in Afghanistan working for Fluor as a Quality Inspector, and it was just like working for KBR, very fraudulent and wasteful, I also have all of my documentation pictures , e-mails etc.

  6. Comment by DCMA Watch:

    It looks likes like nothing has changed except on the electrical front. DCMA and the U.S. Army are incapable of overseeing a contract, let alone administering it.

    I just talked to a company that sees that infrastructure projects in Afghanistan is working like the corrupt infrastructure projects being bid in Kuwait.

    Projects won and sold down to subcontractors instead the Prime portrayed in the response to the solicitation and their teaming partners performing. Inferior and unqualified companies are performing with little or no oversight from the Prime awarded the contract.

    When is the Army Contracting Command going to be scrapped as a failure in Procurement Practices.

    DLA isn’t looking too good either in oversight. They have been camping on 2 solicitation that should have rid the United States of Agility and yet they have extended Heavy Lift 6 and DDKS instead of awarding contracts that have been under evaluation since April 2010 for DDKS and July 2010 for Heavy Lift 7.

    The corruption goes on in Kuwait and Afghanistan. Who in the leadership of the U.S. Army and DLA are profiting from these delay tactics and lack of oversight?

  7. Comment by Benjamin:

    I spent a year working for KBR in Afghanistan, I am a plumbing contractor in California and was hired for that reason. Once in country I discovered my license did nothing more than make other people angry, the lack of any true skill or pride in workmanship was clearly missing. Most if not all of the individuales working for KBR were hacks at best, there were a few skilled people but they had gave up untill I showed up.
    I rocked the boat and would not sign off on projects they wanted me to do unless it was done right, I was told we do not have those parts but would find piles of what was needed on base. It was very frustrating. I spent four months on a base and then switched to the C.J.O.A. teams, flying all over the country and fixing what was screwed up by others or installing new facilities, the team I was with was much better and were a greatly skilled group, we all worked together to get things done right and joined in all projects, electrical, carpentry, hvac, ect.

    I had a good friend who came over and worked in the QAQC dept at Bagram, he left a few months later due to the fact that when he would inspct and fail a project he was told “that is not how it works over here, pass it and move on” he also is a licensed contractor in California. KBR is a joke and hires some of the worst people, 90% of which I would not hire to work for me, the abuse of the tax payers money is outrageous and criminal, there was a huge push to get the electrical problems fixed when I first arrived due to the deaths caused by a lack of care or true craftsmen. There was no ground protection anywhere to be found and when it was found it was looped back to the circut, just totally nuts.

  8. Ping from Defense Cover-Up Management Agency (DCMA) – Part 2 – Ms Sparky:

    […] This is Part 2 in a series of original articles to be published on MsSparky.com by former DCMA QAR Keven L. Barnes discussing his personal experiences with the oversight of KBR’s LOGCAP III contract. Defense Cover-Up Management Agency (DCMA) – Part 1 can be read HERE. […]

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