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MATTHEW MOSK and RICHARD ESPOSITO
(ABC News) – June 21, 2011 – A Kuwaiti shipping company that has done more than $1 billion in business with the U.S. military has also had ties to one of the men indicted in New York Monday for his alleged role in an international conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Members of Congress have for months been asking the Pentagon if the defense contractor Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport (KGL) may be secretly doing business with Iranian front companies, and those questions took on fresh urgency Monday with the 317-count indictment (PDF). Among those indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance was Moghaddami Fard, an Iranian man whose name appears on dozens of emails with top KGL executives, and who sat on the five-member board of directors of a company that was partially owned by KGL.
“I am deeply concerned by information that suggests the U.S. Army and Defense Logistics Agency may be contracting sensitive military logistics services to an entity tied to Iran’s primary shipping company,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told ABC News Monday.
“We must come down hard on this company so others realize they will pay a price for doing business with Iran,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). “Our sanctions must have sharp teeth.”
Nothing starts the week out better than a good cup of coffee and listening to the Commission on Wartime Contracting grilling a witness on the ineptitudes of wartime contractors. It makes it worthwhile to get up on Monday morning, when you can turn on C-Span, with the anticipation of hearing the sound of a gavel calling a hearing to order. As usual the Commission did not disappoint. ~Forseti
Pentagon resists automatic suspension of indicted contractors
Robert Brodsky – (GovExec) – March 28, 2011 – Mandatory suspension or debarment of indicted contractors could have a “chilling effect” on contractor relations, the Defense Department’s top acquisition official told the Commission on Wartime Contracting on Monday.
In February, the congressionally chartered commission released an interim report on how the department could reduce waste, fraud and abuse through enhanced oversight and improved deployment of government resources in contingency contracting.
The report offered 32 specific legislative, regulatory and policy proposals, including limiting the government’s reliance on armed private security contractors. The commission’s final report is due out in July and likely will be considered by Congress for possible legislation.
Defense agreed with most of the suggestions in the interim report and already has begun to implement some, according to Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. But Carter told the panel that other ideas would do more harm than good.
For example, the commission recommends automatic suspension or debarment for indicted contractors. The group would mandate that suspensions and debarments no longer be subject to the terms of agreements the contractors make with the Justice Department — agreements that allow firms to avoid prosecution in criminal actions. Also, contingency contractors operating overseas should no longer be guaranteed a hearing to dispute facts in a suspension or debarment case, according to the report.
Carter disagreed with those recommendations, noting suspension and debarment officials need the flexibility and discretion to judge each case on its own facts and circumstances. (Click HERE for article)
One project that attracted high-level scrutiny last year: a program started by DoD senior civilian strategist Michael Furlong that hired professional contractors to scoop up information in Afghanistan. Furlong, an ex-Army officer, said through his attorney Nancy Luque that the project was approved by Army Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and by the newly nominated Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus. – JIEDDO: The Manhattan Project that bombed
In effort to stop roadside bombs, Pentagon hires 1,666 contractors
Peter Cary & Nancy A. Youssef – (Center for Public Integrity & McClatchy Newspapers) – WASHINGTON – March 27, 2011 – Launched in February 2006 with an urgent goal — to save U.S. soldiers from being killed by roadside bombs in Iraq — a small Pentagon agency ballooned into a bureaucratic giant fueled by that flourishing arm of the defense establishment: private contractors.
An examination by the Center for Public Integrity and McClatchy of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization revealed an agency so dominated by contractors that the ratio of contractors to government employees has reached six to one.
A JIEDDO former director, Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, acknowledged that such an imbalance raised the possibility that contractors in management positions could approve proposals or payments for other contractors. Oates said the ratio needed to be reduced.
The 1,900-person agency has spent nearly $17 billion on hundreds of high-tech and low-tech initiatives and had some successes, but it’s failed to significantly improve soldiers’ ability to detect roadside bombs, which have become the No. 1 killer of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. (Click HERE for article)
In the line of duty
Former cop Mark Mitchell’s exploits in the Middle East sound like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster – but has he got what it takes to make it as a politician?
It’s a truth as old as Creation. Light is an element of goodness, darkness a crony of corruption.
As Sunshine Week draws to a close, this foundational block of wisdom should be shouted from the rooftops, whispered in hearing rooms, but more importantly, carried out in their day-to-day operation of government. — Daily World
Pentagon Hires Contractors to Regulate Contractors
Noel Brinkerhoff – (AllGov) – March 18, 2011 – Instead of keeping watch itself, the Department of Defense today relies on contractors to monitor the work of other contractors, a risk strategy that became cemented during the Iraq War thanks to a politically-connected—and powerful—company with ties to the Bush White House.
In late 2004, the U.S. Army command overseeing logistical support for troops in Iraq had a serious problem on its hands. Army officials had hired KBR, then a subsidiary of Halliburton, which Vice President Dick Cheney had helped lead, to supply soldiers with food and other supplies. But at least $1 billion in billing by KBR was questioned by the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency, resulting in the Army deciding to withhold 15% of its payments to KBR.
Company officials fought the withholding and pressured both the Defense Department and Congress to release the money it claimed it was owed. So the Army removed those who had raised alarms over the billing and hired another company, consulting firm RCI, to conduct its own audit of KBR costs. The result? RCI didn’t find any problem with KBR’s billing and the contractor got most of its money. (Click HERE for article)
South Florida oilman’s company overbilled Pentagon by up to $204 million, audit says
Megan O’Matz – (Sun Sentinel) – March 18, 2011 – South Florida oilman Harry Sargeant’s company overcharged the Pentagon by up to $204 million for fuel used by U.S. troops in Iraq, a federal audit has found.
…according to newly available Defense Department data, is that more than half the Pentagon’s total budget obligations for contracting last year were spent without effective competition or with no competition at all. That comes to about $188 billion, according to numbers provided by the Pentagon.
-John Donnelly – Congressional Quarterly
Kuwait’s Agility to manage warehouse for U. S. for 6-months more
DUBAI – (Reuters) – February 20, 2011 – Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility will continue to provide services to a U.S. defence agency until August 2011 after winning a six-month contract extension, with estimated revenues of $19 million.
In a statement to the bourse, Agility said the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) had extended its contract for six months, starting March 1, to provide warehouse management services to support operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.
The DLA is part of the U. S. Department of Defence and provides logistics support to military services and to several civilian agencies and foreign countries, its website says. Agility has been embroiled in a long-standing legal dispute with the U.S. government after a criminal case was filed in November 2009 when prosecutors accused it, formerly Public Warehousing Co K.S.C., of overcharging. (Click HERE for article)
Government Controller Arrested for Embezzlement
WASHINGTON – /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – February 18, 2011 – Michael E. Hase, 62, was arrested in Dulles, Virginia yesterday by Federal agents of the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Hase was arrested on an embezzlement charge stemming from his work as a controller for USAID, announced Ike Hendershot, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations.