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KBR vs. Army: On largest services contract, ‘things have gotten very nasty’

Jim McElhatton – (Federal Times) – May 5, 2013 – Army contracting officer Robert Egan gave contractor KBR Inc. a rare ultimatum: Provide a firm, fixed price on remaining work to close out the largest government services contract in U.S. history. Or else, he added, he was finished talking.

“Until I see that FFP deliverable, I cannot enter further communication exchanges with your contracts team,” Egan told the company in a Feb. 26 email.

At issue is the final stage of the Army’s $38 billion Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III, the 12-year-old logistics contract that has supported virtually all U.S. military logistics operations in Iraq. The Army seeks to revise the pricing terms on the final work to be done on the contract to be firm, fixed price instead of cost-reimbursable. In response, KBR has filed a lawsuit seeking to keep to the existing cost-reimbursable terms.

At stake in the dispute is far more than varying interpretations of contracting procedures. By its own estimates, KBR says the closeout work on the contract will cost more than $500 Read the remainder of this entry »

Tom’s all for relief, but here’s the story of how I got relieved unfairly in Iraq

Originally posted by Thomas E. Ricks – (Foreign Policy) July 25, 2012

By Col. Larry Wexler (U.S. Army, ret.)

Best Defense department of first person experience

I served i n Iraq from 2008-2009 and served as the deputy program director for LOGCAP Iraq. I was relieved of my duties in March 2009 after having apparently performed them just fine from October 2008 to March 2009. In January my supervisor recommended me for a Bronze Star for the work I was doing. He was stationed at Rock Island and came for a theater visit in February 2009. At no time did he mention any performance issues or his intentions to relieve me of my duties. What had transpired up to that time was I reported fraud, waste, and abuse on the part of the SERCO Management Contract and certain of the contractors and a failure to perform on the part of KBR on their contract. Prior to all this I had served 30 years in the Army in both active and reserve and extended my retirement a year to serve on the LOGCAP contract, had been promoted to Colonel, had command assignments up to 06 level and had attended the U.S. Army War College. I was also mobilized for two years on a joint assignment as the chief of staff of a deployable joint task force headquarters core element. In my civilian career I served as a vice president of corporate infrastructure — essentially purchasing and contracting.

America’s Shame: The U.S. Government’s Human Trafficking Dilemma

Joe Newman – (POGO) – May 7, 2012 – For Vinnie Tuivaga, the offer was the answer to a prayer: A job in a luxury hotel in Dubai–the so-called Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf–making five times what she was earning as a hair stylist in her native Fiji.

She jumped at the chance, even if it meant paying an upfront commission to the recruiter.

You probably know how this story is going to end. There was no high-paying job, luxury location or easy work.

Tuivaga and other Fijians ended up in Iraq where they lived in shipping containers and existed in what amounted to indentured servitude.

Journalist Sarah Stillman told Tuivaga’s story and that of tens of thousands of other foreign workers in acute detail almost a year ago in her New Yorker piece, “The Invisible Army.”

In some cases, Stillman found more severe abuses and more squalid living conditions than what Tuivaga and her fellow Fijians experienced.

But like Tuivaga, thousands of foreign nationals in the U.S. government’s invisible army ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones because they fell victim to human traffickers.

Let that sink in.

This human trafficking pipeline wasn’t benefitting some shadowy war lord or oppressive regime. No, these are workers who were feeding, cleaning up after, and providing logistical support for U.S. troops—the standard-bearers of the free and democratic world. Read the remainder of this entry »

Gone Fishin’ and other news

We imagine the lobbyist stalking the halls of Congress trying to use cash to influence important people. But it doesn’t always work that way. Often, the Congressman is stalking the lobbyist, asking for money. ~ NPR, Money in Politics Series

Army probes drug use by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan
Lolita C. Baldor – (The Associated Press) – WASHINGTON – April 21, 2012 –  The U.S. Army has investigated 56 soldiers in Afghanistan on suspicion of using or distributing heroin, morphine or other opiates during 2010 and 2011, newly obtained data shows. Eight soldiers died of drug overdoses during that time.

While the cases represent just a slice of possible drug use by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, they provide a sombre snapshot of the illicit trade in the war zone, including young Afghans peddling heroin, soldiers dying after mixing cocktails of opiates, troops stealing from medical bags and Afghan soldiers and police dealing drugs to their U.S. comrades.

In a country awash with poppy fields that provide up to 90 per cent of the world’s opium, the U.S. military struggles to keep an eye on its far-flung troops and monitor for substance abuse.

But U.S. Army officials say that while the presence of such readily available opium — the raw ingredient for heroin — is a concern, opiate abuse has not been a pervasive problem for troops in Afghanistan. (Click HERE for article)

Government Worker Claims Rape on the Job
Iulia Filip – (Courthouse News) – MONTGOMERY, Ala. – April 20, 2012 – The U.S. government faces federal claims that a manager in the Defense Department harassed and repeatedly raped a contract worker.

Read the remainder of this entry »

New Legislation Includes POGO’s Recommendations for Ending Human Trafficking in U.S. War Zones

Dana Liebelson – (POGO) – March 28, 2012 – U.S. taxpayers unknowingly fund human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan because of poor contractor oversight–but bipartisan Members of Congress are cracking down on this deplorable crime. A new bill introduced on Monday in the House and the Senate incorporates many of POGO’s recommendations for stopping U.S. contractors and subcontractors from getting away with modern-day slavery. Some contractors may complain, but both versions of the bill deserve resounding support from the public.

The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S. 2234 and H.R. 4259) is sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) respectively, along with many notable cosponsors. The legislation is the long-awaited response to a variety of reports from war zones over the course of several years—including the Commission on Wartime Contracting’s final report, which found “tragic evidence of the recurrent problem of trafficking in persons by labor brokers or subcontractors of contingency contractors.”

POGO Director of Investigations Nick Schwellenbach testified before a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on this issue in November.

Read the remainder of this entry »