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David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – On March 27 the Technology, Informational Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing, “Labor Abuses, Human Trafficking, and Government Contracts: Is the Government Doing Enough to Protect Vulnerable Workers?”
This is a subject of more than passing interest to me because last year I wrote a report, published June 14, and commissioned by the Project on Government Oversight, on the exploitation and abuse of the workers of a KBR subcontractor. I subsequently testified at a Nov. 2, 2011 hearing about that report before this very subcommittee.
NEIL GORDON – (POGO) – The Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) may be history, but the need for a contingency operations watchdog of the CWC’s caliber will never go away. In fact, just as the CWC was closing up shop last week, the State Department Inspector General released a report finding problems on a $12 million contract in Afghanistan.
The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) awarded a contract to DynCorp International to provide operations and maintenance support services at Camp Falcon in Kabul, Afghanistan. Under the contract, DynCorp provides almost everything needed to sustain the camp, including food, laundry and medical services, pest control, electric power generation, sewage and sanitation, and security. While the Inspector General determined that, in general, DynCorp “adequately” operates and maintains the camp, the report found weaknesses in DynCorp’s performance of food, fuel operations, and static security guard services.
KBR’s umbrella contract to provide everything from showers to rebuilding airfields tops $37 billion. “It’s like a gigantic monopoly,” says one critic.
After a decade of war, KBR’s umbrella contract tops $37 billion
Sharon Weinberger – (The Center for Public Integrity – iWatch News) – August 30, 2011 – The rush to war in the months following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 created an urgency in the Pentagon, not just for military operations but also for contracting.
When U.S. forces moved into Afghanistan in 2001, there was little, if any, infrastructure to support and house U.S. troops. The military needed someone to do everything from housing troops to rebuilding airfields. The solution was a contract called the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP, a type of umbrella contract the Army had been using to support is military bases overseas. In late 2001, the Army, after a competition, awarded LOGCAP III to KBR. The Houston-based firm , once a subsidiary of Halliburton, began providing everything from showers to dining halls.
Even beyond single-source contracts, the Pentagon has other types of contracts it can use to quickly award work without having to compete specific jobs. They include umbrella-type contracts, like LOGCAP, that allow the government to buy unspecified goods and services over long periods of time. “It’s the government’s way of saying ‘We don’t know what we want, and we don’t know how much it costs,’” said Laura Peterson, a senior policy analyst with Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group. “Instead they say, ‘we’ll put you on retainer and tell you later what we want and when we want it, and you just bill us.’ You become the government’s concierge, and it’s like a gigantic monopoly.”
Mr. Bush is gone now, but that algorithm remains ruthlessly in place. War-oriented companies like DynCorp, Washington Group International, Aegis Defense Services, URS Corporation, BAE Systems, Renco, CACI, Bechtel, General Dynamics, General Electric, and Titan, along with oil giants like ExxonMobil and Chevron, have profited to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars off these conflicts, and are poised to continue doing so well into the future. ~ William Rivers Pitt, Truthout
Troops photograph every grave at Arlington cemetery
Kimberly Hefling – (AP) – Arlington – August 27, 2011 – Night after night this summer, troops from the Army’s historic Old Guard have left their immaculately pressed dress blues, white gloves and shiny black boots at home to slip into Arlington National Cemetery in T-shirts and flip-flops to photograph each and every grave with an iPhone.
The sometimes eerie task to photograph more than 219,000 grave markers and the fronts of more than 43,000 sets of cremated remains in the columbarium is part of the Army’s effort to account for every grave and to update and digitize the cemetery’s maps. The Old Guard works at night to escape the heat and avoid interrupting funerals.
Last year, a scandal over mismanagement at the nation’s most hallowed burial ground revealed unmarked and mismarked graves. Congress then mandated that the cemetery account for the graves of the more than 330,000 people interred in the cemetery.
The troops taking the photos are from Delta Company of the 1st Battalion of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard – the Army’s official ceremonial unit, which provides escorts to the president and helps put on military funerals.
The photos taken at night are matched with other records to find discrepancies that need to be fixed, and officials say it’s too early in the process to draw any conclusions. Military officials hope they can eventually use the photos to create an online database for the public. Four million people annually visit the cemetery. (Click HERE for article)
This Will Improve KBR’s Image
Mark Thompson – (Battleland Blogs) – August 26, 2011 – If KBR’s one-time management by the autobiographical Dick Cheney doesn’t buff the company’s reputation, this ought to do the trick: KBR is suing a woman who claimed that she was raped while working in Iraq for KBR in 2005. In the crazy world of torts and courts, Jamie Leigh Jones had sued KBR for $145 million, claiming the company let a hostile sexual climate exist in Iraq. Last month, a jury found the company not guilty of the charge.
Tony Capaccio – (Bloomberg) – July 7, 2011 – DynCorp International Inc., the largest U.S. contractor in Afghanistan, should refund at least $2 million it was paid by the State Department for costs that “were either not authorized or for services not provided” for Afghan police training work, according to an audit.
The payments were made because contracting officials from State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs “did not always perform a detailed review of invoices prior to payment,” said the audit, released today by the inspectors general of the Pentagon and the State Department .
Contracting officials approved invoices for unauthorized travel and purchases and excess labor costs, said the audit, which examined State’s management of what is now a $4.6 billion contract for Afghan police training and criminal justice initiatives.