Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Auditing Mission Essential Personnel

CorpWatch Pratap Chatterjee

In September 2007 the U.S. Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) awarded Mission Essential Personnel (MEP) a five-year-contract worth up to $414 million to provide 1,691 translators in Afghanistan. MEP was a start-up company created by three men, including Chad Monnin, a U.S. Army Special Forces reservist who was injured in a parachute accident. (Procurement rules give preference to companies owned by injured veterans, even if they have no prior experience.)

When the Obama administration decided to expand the war in Afghanistan last year, MEP quickly hit the ceiling of what it could bill. On May 10, INSCOM gave MEP a $679 million extension without bothering to put it up for competitive bid. MEP will also get a share of the Intelligence Support Services Omnibus III contract, a five-year contract, with a ceiling of $492 million, announced on August 10, 2010.

The only two other contractors that have held multi-billion dollar contracts to supply translators to soldiers and diplomats in the Global War on Terror — L-3/Titan and Global Linguist Services — have both been investigated for alleged overcharging, suggesting that this type of work falls in the high risk category of government spending.

Yet DCAA failed to conduct a full business systems audit for MEP. Concerned about DCAA’s failure, Christopher Shays, one of the co-chairs of the Commission on Wartime Contracting told MEP CEO Chris Taylor: “You don’t have to compete for it, and you, whatever your costs are, you get something plus, and you haven’t had any audits.” Shays assured MEP that he was not suggesting that the company had done anything wrong, re-iterating that the commission considered MEP a “a great American success story.”

“We currently have DCAA auditors on our property in Columbus, Ohio, working through any number of audit issues. But we welcome it,” Taylor told the commission. “We are current on our 2008 and 2009 incurred-cost submissions,” he added, referring to the invoices that the company sends INSCOM for payment.

DCAA Director Patrick Fitzgerald told the hearing that the problem was that the contract grew quicker than expected. “Are we behind the curve? Yes. We should have been in there quicker,” he told commissioners. “Our experience has shown that when contractors grow that fast, the procedures, processes, and systems have trouble keeping up with that growth, increases the risk to the U.S. government.”

When asked to respond the charges leveled at DCAA at the hearing, a Pentagon spokesperson emailed the following statement to CorpWatch: “We agreed with the commission that additional resources were required at MEP and have worked to ensure that additional DCAA assets are directed to MEP.” The spokesperson estimated that it will complete “much of the critical audit work needed to assess MEP’s business systems within the next six months.”

See Also

Inside the No Bid Contract for Iraqi Interpreters

Meet the men who help US and NATO troops communicate their aims in Afghanistan — and in doing so risk their lives.

Lost in Limbo: Injured Afghan Translators Struggle to Survive

August 30, 2010 - Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Mission Essential Personnel, Private Military Contractors | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. the MEP grow fast because they hire personal that have no knowledge of the language I worked for MEP serving the USMC The MEP puts our Men & Women at risk many time over and over I know a turb paid the afghan soldier to go for petroling so he can interpet from pashtu to Iranian Persian he interpret to English I am wondering how do these people passes the ci clearance interview some interpreter never be to the location and they get paid the MEP only provided a number to the linguist need for the US ARMY not a translator or a linguist and more. I worked for MEP for 18 month

    Comment by mohammad | January 17, 2011 | Reply

  2. Interesting report. They do a good job summarizing aspects of the company on its Wikipedia page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Essential_Personnel

    Comment by Gabriel Remmick | March 11, 2011 | Reply


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