Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Senators Call for Changes to Troubled, Costly Afghan Police Training Program

by Ryan Knutson, ProPublica

State and Defense department officials took a tongue-lashing today, trying to explain to a Senate subcommittee how the government has poured $6 billion since 2002 into building an effective Afghan police force with disastrous results.

ProPublica and Newsweek examined the problems [1] with police training in Afghanistan in a story published last month. The program, managed under a contract with DynCorp International, has faced challenges on every front, from recruitment to inadequate training periods to corruption to poor officer retention.

“Everything that could go wrong here, has gone wrong,” Gordon S. Heddell, the inspector general of the Department of Defense, acknowledged to an ad hoc subcommittee [2] of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Heddell’s office, along with the State Department’s Inspector General, completed a six-month audit in January of the program that found significant lapses.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the subcommittee chair, and others on the panel were less interested in rehashing the program’s well-known shortcomings and more interested in hearing about solutions. “What you laid out was a problem we knew in 2001,” said Sen. Edward Kaufman, D-Del., in response to comments from Heddell. “What are the two or three things you can spend $6 billion on and not end up with essentially nothing?”

Defense and State Department officials agreed that clearer guidelines for the contractor and more oversight are needed to improve the program. Currently, the State Department has just seven contract overseers in Afghanistan, said David T. Johnson, an assistant secretary for the State Department. The agency hopes to have 22 in place by September, Johnson said.

Another key would be to make training ongoing, rather than just the six weeks that police recruits are getting now, said David S. Sedney, a deputy assistant secretary with the Defense Department. “This is not a weeks- or months-long [process] — it’s a years-long process,” he said, adding that police need to be partnered with American military and more experienced Afghan troops on whom they can model their behavior.

Even if the program makes headway, some senators questioned whether it would be sustainable without a massive ongoing commitment from U.S. taxpayers. The Afghan police and army are slated to receive $11.6 billion to fund their operations for 2011, with just over half going to the police, Sedney said. McCaskill pointed out that’s only $2 billion less than the entire country’s Gross Domestic Product.

“It’s obvious that Afghanistan is not going to be able to afford what we’re building for them,” she said. The U.S. has made a “billion-dollar commitment for years to come.”

The government is already exploring whether a change in contractors might benefit the police-training program. DynCorp’s contract has been extended for several months, but the State Department has issued a call for new bids, hoping an array of companies will step up to compete for the job, Johnson said. McCaskill was skeptical, however.

“I will be shocked — like winning the lottery — if we end up with anybody other than DynCorp,” she said.

Write to Ryan Knutson at Ryan.Knutson@propublica.org

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, DynCorp, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agility Lose Out on US Military Supply Shipments

US Defence Logistics Agency Change Shipping Contractors

KUWAIT – US – IRAQAgility, the Kuwait based company threatened with a major penalty for alleged impropriety over shipping supplies to the US military, report they have been replaced as the chosen logistics supplier by the US Defence Logistics Agency. The company report that they will continue to supply the Government forces for a further six months to ensure a smooth transition.

Agility, referred to in indictments as PWC or Public Warehousing Company, the name under which they formerly traded, stated on Monday that two sister companies, Agility DGS Holdings and Agility DGS Logistics, had been added to the prosecutions case file. The group stand accused of overcharging the US military by millions of dollars for their services and making false statements to disguise their activities.

The Agility Group stated in Monday’s release:

“PWC’s work on the food contract has been timely, reliable and cost effective. Its performance, under the most dangerous and demanding conditions, has been unparalleled. The prices it charges have been negotiated with, agreed to, and continually approved by the U.S. government, which has found PWC’s prices to be fair and reasonable.

“PWC has a strong, compelling legal case. The Company intends to defend itself vigorously if this matter properly goes to court. PWC and the Department of Justice continue to hold discussions aimed at a resolution.

“The decision by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta is regrettable. The indictment contains no new allegations, and simply adds two PWC affiliates as defendants. This move serves only to taint PWC subsidiaries that have a strong record of on-the-job performance and compliance with U.S. law and federal acquisition regulations.”

Requests to the US military by the Handy Shipping Guide for the identity of any new supplier remain unanswered but on Tuesday a Springfield, Virginia based group, Versar Incorporated, announced that they had been awarded two task order contract extensions totalling $7.5 million by the Gulf Region District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is for their support works, including logistics, for their personal services contract to regenerate and reconstruct areas of Iraq. These works should be completed by October this year, just as Agility complete their foreshortened contract. Versar had already received a further $37 million worth of US military contract renewals in the preceding two weeks.

See full story with comments at Ms Sparky

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defense Contract Management Agency Acquisition Workforce for Southwest Asia

DCMA and Contractor Oversight

By David Isenberg at Huff Post

Let us start out by acknowledging that most federal government auditors and contracting officers charged with doing oversight on private contractors have a difficult job. As has been documented for years they are overburdened and until recently, under resourced. I am sure most of them try to do an enormously difficult job as professionally and competently as they can.

That said, they can only be as good as the agency they work for. When we think of private contractors working for the U.S. military that means places like the Defense Contract Auditing Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) . DCMA is the DOD Component that works directly with Defense suppliers to help ensure that DOD, Federal, and allied Government supplies and services are delivered on time, at projected cost, and meet all performance requirements.

With regard to the latter let’s look at a recent report by the Department of Defense Inspector General. Titled “Defense Contract Management Agency Acquisition Workforce for Southwest Asia” its objective was to determine DCMA requirements to support Southwest Asia (SWA) contracting operations and the number of available DCMA civilian, military, foreign national, and support contractors supporting the operations. Specifically, it determined whether DCMA identified its requirements to support SWA contracting operations. It also evaluated whether a sample of the DCMA acquisition workforce for SWA was adequately trained and certified.

Southwest Asia means Afghanistan so one can see this is not a just a subject of academic concern.

Unfortunately for U.S. troops there the report makes DCMA look a bit like the Keystone Cops. The report found that as of December 31, 2008, DCMA provided contract oversight and contract administration for contract actions valued at $1.3 trillion.

But DCMA could not determine its resource requirements for contractor oversight and
contract administration in SWA because:

DCMA is reactive rather than proactive in assuming its role to provide contractor oversight and contract administration.
DCMA did not define its acquisition workforce requirements to support contracting operations in SWA,

AT&L [Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics] does not require Defense agencies to document acquisition workforce requirements, and

DCMA must be delegated contractor oversight and contract administration responsibility for work in SWA.

On the not so outlandish assumption that one can’t do good oversight if you don’t have good auditors the report dismayingly reports that:

DCMA Southwest Asia personnel did not have the proper training and certification for contingency contracting positions in SWA. Specifically, of the 221 DCMA personnel training records reviewed from a universe of 1,170 from FY 2004 through FY 2009: 103 DCMA personnel were not fully qualified for the position occupied, and

57 quality assurance representatives did not have or could not produce proof of Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act certification.

In addition, of the 75 position descriptions DCMA provided, 30 position descriptions were either incorrect or did not have a requirement for certification.

Although the Pentagon has said numerous times in the past several years that it is increasing the size of its acquisition workforce the IG report noted that

DCMA reported that its civilian staffing decreased from 19,403 full-time equivalents as of October 1, 1992, to 9,423 as of December 31, 2008 (a 51 percent decrease). DCMA military staffing decreased from 570 on January 1, 2003, to 542 as of December 31, 2008. From October 1, 1999 through December 31, 2008, the number of DCMA-administered contracts increased from 309,000 to 321,000, while the obligated value of those contracts increased from $866 billion to $1.3 trillion (50 percent increase). Conversely, during the same period the number of contractors administered by DCMA decreased from 18,600 to 18,500.

With those numbers it is small wonders problems keep cropping up.

Considering what I wrote in my last post , regarding contractors overseeing contractors, it is worth noting that the report says “DCMA does not (nor is required to) report the number of contractor and foreign national personnel in the acquisition workforce. However, the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract requires contractor personnel to perform contract administration functions. As a result, an unknown number of contractor and foreign national personnel may be supplementing the contract administration workforce.”

For those who wonder why that is a problem, consider this excerpt from the IG report::

The Army awarded the LOGCAP III contract to Kellogg, Brown, and Root in 2001 and delegated the responsibility of managing the LOGCAP III contract to DCMA in August 2006. Although DCMA was delegated contract administration authority for the LOGCAP III contract, DCMA relied on the prime contractor to perform quality assurance, inspections, and repair in those facilities. DOD Inspector General (IG) Report No. IE-2009-006, “Review of Electrocution Deaths in Iraq: Part I – Electrocution of Staff Sergeant Ryan D. Maseth, U.S. Army,” July 24, 2009, found that the prime contractor did not advise DCMA of electrical deficiencies in facilities that soldiers and contractors occupied. As a result, one service member died in those facilities due to faulty electrical wiring and improperly grounded electrical equipment. The report stated that the Government in good faith relied upon the contractor to provide qualified people to do the work as part of the “workmanlike” standard and quality provisions provided for under the terms of the contract. In addition, the report stated that LOGCAP III Support Unit contracting officer acceptance of prime contractor assumptions during contract negotiations resulted in a false perception that buildings and peripheral equipment were in acceptable condition during the transfer of Radwaniyah Palace Complex facility operations and maintenance to LOGCAP III.

Follow David Isenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanidan

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Army Corps of Engineers’ Use of Award Fees in Iraq and Afganistan

April Fools Award Fees and the Army Corps of Engineers

By David Isenberg at    Huff Post

Since nobody has mentioned it thus far I thought I would draw your notice to a Department of Defense Inspector General’s report. As it was dated April 1 perhaps people thought it was an April Fools joke. Alas, it was not.

The aim of the report, “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Use of Award Fees on Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan” was to determine whether award fees paid by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Programs Center (TAC) to contractors in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were justified.

You can probably already guess the answer.

The report found that:

TAC contracting and award fee officials did not properly manage and oversee the award fee process for the 15 CPAF [Cost-Plus-Award-Fee] task orders reviewed, valued at $116.4 million. Specifically, officials did not:
Develop adequate award fee plans for incentivizing and evaluating contractor performance,

Adequately conduct oversight and evaluation responsibilities, or

Adequately document and support award fee ratings.

This occurred because USACE did not have policies and procedures for administering award fees consistently and in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements. In addition, USACE did not adopt Army best practices documented in the Army Contracting Agency (ACA) Award Fee Contracts Handbook.

How TAC could not “have policies and procedures for administering award fees consistently and in accordance with” FAR requirements is an interesting mystery. Admittedly the FAR is not easy reading. Okay, it is mind numbing. Still, assuming one had one’s morning coffee it is an easy click down to “Subchapter C–Contracting Methods and Contract Types”

Anyway, the bottom line was that “As a result, TAC contracting officers and award fee personnel awarded fees, totaling approximately $20.6 million, without sufficient support, justification, or assurance that contractors were paid award fees commensurate with their level of performance.”

For those without a calculator that means almost 18 percent of the total task orders award fees value was without “sufficient support, justification, or assurance that contractors were paid award fees commensurate with their level of performance.”

I wonder if that is the sort of value various industry trade associations have in mind when they proclaim contractor cost-effectiveness. I’m just asking, mind you.

This is not to blame the contractors. They can only follow the procedures that exist and the procedures were AWOL.

As the report notes:

TAC contracting officials did not develop adequate AFPs [Award Fee Plan]. Specifically, TAC contracting officials did not develop criteria to evaluate contractor performance that were tailored to the individual circumstances of the procurement, as required by AFARS. Instead, TAC contracting officials established criteria that were vague and not measureable. For example, TAC established criteria that were intended to evaluate the contractors’ efforts to control cost; however, the criteria that TAC established did not address acquisition outcomes such as meeting cost goals. The cost control criteria were overly general and included undefined terms such as “effectiveness,” “timeliness,” “completeness,” and “reasonableness.”

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contract Awards, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment