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How in the Hell did that happen? We’ll tell you! Wrapping up 2010

This is the Ms Sparky version of "The Happy Dance"! ("I can see you smiling!")

Because I refuse to blog about celebrities, the latest iPhone Apps, religion, every whack job loser who walks the face of the earth or conspiracy theories (even though I have a few) my reader pool is somewhat limited. And that’s fine, because I am only interested in reaching those people who are interested in defense contractor fraud and abuses, their victims, the heroes who push for new legislation to protect soldiers and civilians and the incompetence of the Pentagon to oversee these contractors.

In January 2010 we published our 2008 & 2009  blog statistics to show how much MsSparky.com had grown in the previous two years. In the big scheme of  “all things blog” these stats were not phenomenal, but we were pleased. MsSparky.com had gone from 500,000 hits in 2008 to over 4.7 million hits in 2009.  That is a 940% increase in traffic to MsSparky.com. Woo Hoo! (Happy Dance!)

But what about 2010? I had to pick a goal to work towards. Another 940% increase seemed too optimistic. Being the conservative I am and having no idea what an attainable goal should be, I arbitrarily chose a 500% increase and damn if we didn’t almost make it. (Happy Dance!) MsSparky.com racked up an amazing 20,197,850 (yes, that’s million) hits for 2010. That is a 428% increase in traffic from 2009 to 2010 and a whopping 3,878% (yes, that’s thousand) increase from 2008 to 2010! Read the remainder of this entry »

Defense Cover-Up Management Agency (DCMA) – Part 2

US Air Force MSgt Keven L. Barnes

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

The next Statement of Procedure (SOP) I was to turn my attention to was the Water. The concern about the water in the Green Zone was elevated after laundry operations went down for 17 days because the laundry machines became contaminated with diesel fuel. In addition, I had several complaints from military personnel that their showers “smelled like diesel fuel”. I heard that same complaint nearly every week. I told our DCMA commanders about these concerns and they laughed it off. No action was taken to locate the cause of the fuel smell by either Col Miles or his replacement, U.S. Army Col McQuain.

The State Department and US Embassy personnel became very upset about the laundry being shut down (no dry cleaning services) and I was told to find out the cause. Now I have have clients of the LOGCAP contract informing me their shower smells like diesel fuel and the laundry goes down for 17 days because of fuel contamination. I felt the next logical step was to perform an inspection of the KBR Water Operations to assess their compliance with the Statement of Procedure. I informed KBR of the impending Water Operations inspection and gave them a week to prepare. To that date, KBR’s Water Operations in the Green Zone had never been inspected by DCMA. I questioned on a daily basis what the previous DCMA Quality Assurance Representative (QAR) were doing? The Statement of Procedure for Water Operations stated the requirements for super chlorinating, daily inspections and logbooks. I was to find that none of these requirements were being adequately performed, if at all. Read the remainder of this entry »

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