Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Marjah’s ‘Government in a Box’ Flops as McChrystal Fumes

By Noah Schatchman at Wired’s Danger Room

The plan was to overwhelm the Taliban stronghhold with coalition forces — and then instantly install a new civilian infrastructure in the town of Marjah. “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,” said top commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

The reality has been different. A new governor has been installed. Construction projects have begun. “By day there is government,” one tribal leader tells McClatchy’s Don Nissenbaum. “By night it’s the Taliban.”

Marines are running into more firefights on their patrols. Taliban insurgents threaten and kill residents who cooperate with the Americans, and it will be months before a permanent police force is ready to take control of the streets from the temporary force that’s brought some stability to Marjah.

The U.S.-backed Marjah governor, Marine officials said, has five top ministers. Eight of 81 certified teachers are on the job, and 350 of an estimated 10,000 students are going to school.

“How many days do you think we have before we run out of support by the international community?” McChrystal asks. “I’m telling you… We don’t have as many days as we’d like.”  Full Story here

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Pentagon | , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. counting on Wesa to succeed at reforming Kandahar

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 25, 2010; 1:47 PM

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — Before he became America’s best hope for reforming Kandahar’s cutthroat political system, provincial governor Tooryalai Wesa was fired from his job with a U.S.-government contractor over mismanagement and allegations of corruption.

Wesa’s 10-month tenure with Bethesda-based contractor DAI ended in July 2007 with accusations that he had used his position as a field coordinator to benefit his tribe and family, according to officials familiar with his tenure. In the context of Afghan corruption, which is pervasive and often involves government officials siphoning off massive sums of money, the allegations were minor. But the questions about his integrity and management abilities were serious enough that they cost him his job, the officials said.  Read the full story here

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unknown Casualties

David Isenberg Huff Post

At the risk of belaboring the obvious we should remember that being a private military or security contractor can be a dangerous job. You can be wounded or killed, even if you are not carrying a gun.

As private contractor casualties are not reported by the Defense Department and merit just the briefest of notices in local hometown newspapers such casualties are largely off the radar screen for most people.

But the numbers are hardly trivial. Consider the latest version of a report on the Defense Base Act (DBA), put out by the Congressional Research Service. The DBA essentially requires that many federal government contractors and subcontractors provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees who work outside of the United States.

As the U.S. military has increased operations in Iraq, the size of the DBA program has grown. Between September 2001 and the end of December 2009, the DBA has processed 55,988 cases of covered injuries or deaths. Of these, 27,820 or 49.7% involved no lost work time on the part of the employee. During this period, the DBA has processed 1,987 cases involving the death of a covered employee.

Of these, 1,459 or 73.4% occurred in Iraq and 289 or 14.5% occurred in Afghanistan. Of the 289 deaths in Afghanistan, 100 occurred during the final six months of 2009. Contractor operations in Iraq and Afghanistan account for 87.9% of all covered contractor deaths during this period. Nearly $200 million in cash and medical benefits were paid to DBA claimants in 2008.  

During this same period, there were 4,248 American military deaths in Iraq and 848 American military deaths in Afghanistan. So contractor fatalities were 38 percent of regular military forces

Note that many of the casualties were among people who did not do security work. Just over 40% of all injury and death cases covered by the DBA during this period involved employees working for Service Employers International Inc., an indirect subsidiary of KBR. Service Employers International Inc. was the employer of record for 22,921 total cases including 107 death cases between September 2001 and the end of December 2009.

Prior to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom (which, by the way, will be renamed Operation New Dawn. effective September 1) in 2003, DBA benefits were paid to several hundred claimants per year. OIF was accompanied by an increase in the number of DBA cases and the total amount spent on DBA claims. The DBA caseload increased more than six-fold between 2004 and 2007, with 2007 having the largest caseload of the entire period. The average amount of compensation and medical benefits paid per claim in 2007, however, was at the lowest level since 2003. The number of DBA payments dropped in 2008, but the average benefits per case rose to the 2006 level.

The Department of Labor reports that the increase in cases in 2007 was due, in part, to greater compliance efforts that resulted in firms reporting a greater number of claims that involved only minor medical care and no lost work time.

For detail scroll down the CRS report to page four to see Table 2 “Total Defense Base Act Payments, 1997 to 2008” and Table 3 “Total Defense Base Act Cases, by Severity of Injury September 1, 2001 through December 31, 2009.”

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wartime contract fraud expected to increase

Federal Times May 24, 2010

More instances of contract fraud and theft are expected as American troops draw down in Iraq and increase their presence in Afghanistan, witnesses at a hearing on wartime contracting said Monday.

“We expect an increase in the volume of criminal investigations as a result of the drawdown in Iraq and force increases in Afghanistan,” said James Burch, deputy inspector general for investigations at the Pentagon.

The potential theft of military equipment that has accumulated in Iraq over the last seven years and cost overruns are two areas of concern, he added. Also, paying bribes to government officials is commonplace in some regions, further complicating matters, Burch said.

The speed required in wartime contracting itself is a risk factor for more contract abuse, and contract administrators may see oversight as a burden that hurts their ability to effectively do their work, Burch said.

This was the 12th hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, created by Congress to look at wartime contracting for reconstruction, logistics and security.

The Defense Department arm that investigates criminal cases is working on 223 investigations, 18 percent more than a year ago, in overseas contingency operations, Burch said. Other investigative offices also have seen numbers rise.

The Office of Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIRIR) has opened 64 cases so far in 2010, compared with 69 in all of 2009, and has 113 cases open currently versus 93 a year ago.

SIGIR’s counterpart for Afghanistan, created in 2008, has also seen its caseload increase with increases in staffing. The Office of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has 42 investigations pending into government property theft, contract fraud and corruption compared with just four cases a year ago.

About half the cases SIGAR is investigating involve Afghan nationals who are working on U.S.-funded reconstruction projects and are suspected of corruption, said Raymond DiNunzio, an assistant inspector general with SIGAR. That presents a challenge because it means working through the underdeveloped Afghan judicial system and weak law enforcement system, he added.  Read the full report here

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contingency Contracting: A Framework for Reform

United States Department of Defense
Office of Inspector General

Contingency Contracting:  A Framework for Reform

Report No. D-2010-059
May 14, 2010

Download here

May 25, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment