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USACE awards KBR, Louis Berger and IAP $490M electrical contracts in Afghanistan…..Really?

On September 30, 2011 KBR, along with Berger/Cummins JV and IAP Worldwide Services, Inc. were awarded contracts by the The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide electrical services for contingency operations in Afghanistan. This $490 million dollar contract is to perform electrical services for prime power operations in support of any location within the Afghan Theater of Operations. This contract supports any and all U.S. facilities in Afghanistan, as required, up to the maximum capacity of $500 million.

The contract includes generator set Operations and Maintenance (O&M), preparation, transport, installation, preventive maintenance, scheduled maintenance, emergency maintenance, service, fueling, relocating and recovering generator sets, associated fuel systems (if required), and all transmission/distribution system maintenance including the underground or overhead system at the U.S. Facilities from the generators to the transformer and associated switchgear.

USACE, who has had their own employee issues lately, acts as if there are no other contractors out there who can do this work! Not to mention, I suspect these three contractors will load up on cheap third world or Afghan labor to perform this work instead of licensed electricians, further propagating US sponsored human trafficking.

Let’s take a look at these contractors one by one. Read the remainder of this entry »

Suspected electrical fire in Afghanistan kills three U.S. Marines and injures two others

SSG Ryan Maseth was electrocuted in his shower in Baghdad and died January 2, 2008

A recent fire that occurred on July 31, 2011 at Camp Lawton, Herat Province, Afghanistan killing three Marines, a K-9 and injuring two others is suspected of being caused by improperly installed electrical systems. The building where these Marines died had been recently constructed and was still under a 1-year warranty by the Afghan contractor who built it. My understanding is the investigation is still ongoing by the Defense Department and Task Force POWER. Task Force POWER, manned by TENG & Associates, is the Afghanistan version of Task Force SAFE in Iraq. These task forces were implemented by the DoD to ensure proper electrical installations in Iraq and Afghanistan after the tragic death of SSG Ryan Maseth, who was electrocuted and died in his shower in Baghdad on January 2, 2008. Is death was caused by an improperly installed electrical water pump in his building.

The issue of shoddy electrical work in Iraq and Afghanistan has been an ongoing problem. There have been several electrocution deaths of soldiers and civilians, 100’s of electrical fires killing and injuring soldiers, civilians and damaging property. The issue of shoddy electrical work has been so pervasive, the U.S. Congress has attempted to address this issue at several hearings held by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In a recent article in the Marine Corp Times, they reported:

Three Marine Corps special operators died Sunday along with a military dog after their living quarters caught fire in western Afghanistan.

The U.S. Marines who died in this tragedy were: Read the remainder of this entry »

Army decision to deny millions in bonuses to KBR is “Right call, but only fist step”

American Chronicle – Congressional Desk
February 26, 2010

Former Task Force SAFE Electrical Subject Matter Expert James Childs testifies before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee about the shoddy electrical work performed by KBR. Cheryl Harris, SSG Ryan Maseth's mother, sheds a tear as she listens to why her son was electrocuted and died in his shower in Baghdad on January 2, 2008.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who chaired Senate hearings on electrocutions of soldiers in Iraq resulting from shoddy contracting work by KBR, said Thursday the Army´s decision to deny million of dollars in bonuses to the firm for its 2008 work in Iraq “is the right call, but it is only a first step.”

Dorgan chaired two Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) hearings in 2008 and 2009 on KBR´s shoddy electrical work in Iraq. The hearings revealed widespread problems with KBR´s electrical work there including countless electrical shocks including one that killed Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, and perhaps others, and injured dozens more on their own bases as they showered and engaged in other routine activities.

Following the hearings, Dorgan and Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) wrote the Army asking that it review KBR´s work and the electrocution death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. They also asked the Army to re-evaluate the millions of dollars in bonuses it has routinely awarded KBR for supposedly excellent work, even when the Army´s own evidence made clear it was highly questionable.

The Army´s investigation of Maseth´s January 2008 death found that KBR´s work exposed soldiers to “unacceptable risk.” A theatre-wide safety review that resulted from the Dorgan-Casey request — Task Force SAFE — also found widespread problems with KBR´s electrical work that exposed soldiers to life threatening risks. Read the remainder of this entry »

KBR loses $25M in award fee bonuses for poor performance in Iraq (updated)

They didn’t just lose $25M….they got ZERO! This is a classic example of how one person can make a difference. I do believe KBR underestimated Cheryl Harris’ tenacity. I applaud you Cheryl!

Contractor linked to Iraq death loses $25M in fees

Associated Press Writer
Feb 24, 10:42 PM EST

Cheryl Harris with her son Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. Ryan, 24, was electrocuted in his shower in Iraq on Jan. 2, 2008. Cheryl has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against KBR. That suit is currently sitting in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals awaiting a decision.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Military contractor KBR has lost about $25 million in bonuses from the government because of “failed” worked done in Iraq during the time a Green Beret was electrocuted in a barracks shower it was responsible for maintaining.

The U.S. Army Sustainment Command said in a statement released to The Associated Press Wednesday night that the Houston-based company failed to meet a level deserving of an award fee payment for work it did during the first four months of 2008. Award fees are written into contracts as an incentive for the contractors to do quality work.

The Army statement did not specifically mention the January 2008 death of 24-year-old Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth of Pittsburgh in the statement but said a task force that has extensively reviewed electrical work in Iraq was consulted in making the decision as was the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, which investigated Maseth’s death, but did not press charges against KBR.

Dan Carlson, a spokesman for the Army Sustainment Command, said in an e-mail that “multiple factors” led to the decision. Read the remainder of this entry »

Ms Sparky – wrapping up 2009

Before I give you all the “Mosts for 2009″ I want to share some 2009 “MsSparky.com” stats with you . I realize these stats would be considered a failure for blogs such as the Huffington Post, but MsSparky.com has come a long way since  I started keeping stats in June 2008 and I am very proud of that. It is “MsSparky.com” readers, commentors and guest writers (THANK YOU Forseti) who have contributed to these stats which ultimately results in getting the word out about KBR and contractor fraud in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait!

My goal for 2010 is to have numbers at least 5 times greater than 2009!

Month/Year Unique Visitors Total # of Visits Total # of Pages Viewed Hits
June 2008 171 520 3,538 7,133
January 2009 4,728 9,155 29,391 144,978
December 2009 23,014 48,392 558,638 1,691,847
Total for 2009 112,963 245,021 1,295,953 4,722,183

Technorati.com is a blog tracking and rating site. I tried to find the official number of blogs they tracked in 2009 and didn’t find it. But in 2008 it was over 113 million just English speaking blogs. I am expecting 2009 to be in the 100’s of millions of English speaking blogs. My Technorati Authority (rating) is 135. That puts MsSparky.com in the top 20,000 blogs that Technorati tracks. Yes….the Huffington Post is #1. Read the remainder of this entry »