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DOD promises to rein in contracting waste

Leo Shane III – (Stars and Stripes) – WASHINGTON – September 1, 2011 – Defense Department officials late Wednesday acknowledged “serious issues” behind a new report to Congress detailing up to $60 billion in wasted contracting funds, and said efforts have already begun to address those problems.

The 240-page report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting estimates that U.S. taxpayers have lost as much as $12 million a day since the start of the war in Afghanistan, and chronicles dozens of contracts where millions were lost to fraud or incompetence.

In a statement to the media, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said the Defense Department has already implemented several changes to improve contingency contracting in response to the problem, including increased staffing for contract oversight, establishing a Joint Theater Support Contracting Command at the U.S. Central Command, writing new planning requirements for future contracting work and increasing competition on existing contracts.

But he also acknowledged that more work still needs to be done.

“We are supportive of efforts to reduce waste and improve on the value we obtain for the dollars we spend in support of contingency operations,” he said. “Monitoring, assessing and taking corrective action is a continuous process within the department, and we continually improve our planning, oversight and the management of contractors on the battlefield.”

In their press conference Wednesday, commission members said that while they have seen improvements in recent years in defense efforts to limit contracting waste, mistakes made years ago with contracts in Iraq are often repeated in Afghanistan, costing taxpayers again. (Click HERE for original article)

Hands on FlagBy Geoff Ziezulewicz – Stars and Stripes – August 5, 2010
Families with troops who died in noncombat situations generally reported a harder time getting answers than those whose loved ones were killed in battle.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors The casualty notification officers somberly relayed their message: It was one of her twin sons, Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, who had perished.

They couldn’t provide any more information to Harris, nothing else to help the reeling mother absorb or even comprehend the shock.

“Their job was to convey he died,” Harris said. “That’s it. I actually for a brief period of time thought he’d been murdered. That was even more horrible.”

It wasn’t until the next day that Harris was told that her son had been electrocuted in a shower, but still there were few details. Desperate for answers, Harris started hounding the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, and three weeks later, she found out that an electrical system had shorted out, killing Maseth in the shower at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad.

“I don’t think I would have been told that unless I had constantly pressured and questioned [the military],” said Harris, who later filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against KBR, the contractor responsible for the wiring. “They told me it was difficult to relay information from Iraq to the U.S. I said, ‘How are you fighting a war?’?”

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Pentagon promises study on burn pits

Posted December 26, 2009 By Ms Sparky

By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
Stars and Stripes – Mideast edition
Saturday, December 26, 2009

WASHINGTON — Military health officials who have steadfastly denied that burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan cause serious health problems will launch a massive study next year to see if they’re wrong.

Officially, the Pentagon still says the toxic smoke from the pits is not to blame for the fatal cancers and respiratory illnesses suffered by some troops upon returning from the war zones. But Dr. Craig Postlewaite, director of the Defense Department’s Force Health Protection programs, said that researchers “are keeping the door open” on the issue.

“When we look at the health outcome data of those exposed [to the burn pits] we’re not seeing a great increase in respiratory illnesses,” he said in an interview with Stars and Stripes this week. “But we’ve become aware in the last several months that there have been a handful of conditions diagnosed by military physicians where they’ve indicated there could be an inhalational exposure cause.” Read the remainder of this entry »

Will work for moneyMaybe it’s just my crazy way of thinking, but if you have hired someone to work for you….say Dyncorp for example…..don’t you have an obligation to pay them on time and as agree to? And if you don’t, there shouldn’t there be repercussions? I have been getting numerous complaints that Dyncorp seems to be having a problem paying their American employees on time and as agreed to. Some haven’t been paid for as many as two pay periods.  There is no need to go into what I would be doing about that. All I can say is….. I DON’T WORK FOR FREE and I don’t expect anyone else to as well.

Afghanistan contractor numbers expected to increase
Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, December 3, 2009

Even as U.S. troops surge to new highs in Afghanistan they are outnumbered by military contractors, according to a Defense Department census due to be distributed to Congress — illustrating how hard it is for the U.S. to wean itself from the large numbers of war-zone contractors that have proved controversial in Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The number of contractors in Afghanistan rose to almost 74,000 by June 30, outnumbering the roughly 58,000 U.S. soldiers on the ground at that point, the paper noted.

As the military force in Afghanistan grows further, to a planned 68,000 by the end of the year, the Defense Department expects the ranks of contractors to increase more.

The military requires contractors for essential functions ranging from supplying food and laundry services to guarding convoys and even military bases — functions once performed by military personnel but have been outsourced so a slimmed-down military can focus more on battle-related tasks.

The heavy reliance on contractors in Afghanistan signals that a situation that defense planners once considered temporary has become a standard fixture of U.S. military operations, according to the Journal.

“For a sustained fight like our current commitments, the U.S. military can’t go to war without contractors on the battlefield,” Steven Arnold, a former Army general and retired executive at logistics specialists Ecolog USA and KBR Inc., told the Journal. KBR was formerly owned by Halliburton Co. “For that matter, neither can NATO.” (click HERE for original article)

My question is “Are they going to fill those positions with American taxpayers, or foreign nationals?”

Ms Sparky

KBR prefers to defer electrical inspections in Iraq

Posted October 31, 2009 By Ms Sparky

Task force re-inspecting U.S. facilities in Iraq for faulty wiring

By Lisa Novak, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, November 1, 2009

Courtesy of the Department of Defense Spc. Marcus O. Nolasco was electrocuted while showering at this facility on Forward Operating Base Summerall, Beiji, Iraq, on May 18, 2004. The Defense Department has created a task force to inspect all facilities in Iraq after more than a dozen U.S. troops have been electrocuted. Included in the list are thousands of facilities whose electrical work was completed by defense contractor KBR.

Courtesy of the Department of Defense Spc. Marcus O. Nolasco was electrocuted while showering at this facility on Forward Operating Base Summerall, Beiji, Iraq, on May 18, 2004. The Defense Department has created a task force to inspect all facilities in Iraq after more than a dozen U.S. troops have been electrocuted. Included in the list are thousands of facilities whose electrical work was completed by defense contractor KBR.

An Army task force re-inspecting thousands of potentially unsafe U.S. facilities in Iraq for faulty electrical wiring says a contractor previously ordered to conduct inspections of its own work placed 5,600 facilities on a “deferred” list — meaning they were low priority or there were no plans to inspect them.

Officials with the Defense Department’s 135-member Task Force SAFE said many of the buildings on KBR’s deferred list were still being used by soldiers. As a result, the task force moved these facilities to the top of its inspection list, according to a Sept. 8 internal memo. Read the remainder of this entry »