Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

State Department Inspector General Documents AGNA Antics in Afghanistan

What AGNA ArmorGroup North America?? You mean Michael O’Connell??

Thank you POGO

The State Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG) today released a damning performance evaluation of ArmorGroup North America (AGNA), the contractor responsible for guarding the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Among the revelations from today’s OIG report:

  • AGNA employed, and the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security failed to scrutinize, “Nepalese guards without verifiable experience, training, or background investigations in violation of its contract.”
  • “AGNA cannot account for 101 U.S. Government-furnished weapons that have been missing since 2007. AGNA used U.S. Government-furnished weapons for training rather than required contractor-furnished weapons.”
  • “AGNA regularly allows individuals who are not vetted by Embassy Kabul’s regional security office unescorted access to Camp Sullivan, a U.S. Government-owned camp containing sensitive materials.”

The report confirms and expands on the findings of our investigation last year, which pulled back the curtain on a “Lord of the Flies environment” that had taken hold of the Embassy security guard force.

Lewd and obscene photos of AGNA security guards helped our investigation garner considerable attention—but the key revelation, as detailed in our letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was that the State Department was failing to conduct oversight of a contractor performing an incredibly important service. Today’s OIG report is just one more piece of evidence demonstrating that the State Department continues to struggle in its oversight of private security contractors.

Find statements by POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian and POGO investigator Jake Wiens here.

ArmorGroup’s contract expired on June 30, 2010, but the company will continue to guard the Embassy through the end of 2010. The State Department has selected EOD Technology, Inc. (EODT) to take over security at the Embassy.

— Bryan Rahija

See also:

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, State Department | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan: Karzai Security Contractor Ban Could Assist Humanitarian Aid Work

October 28, 2010 – 2:24pm, by Aunohita Mojumdar Eurasianet.org

    President Hamid Karzai’s plan to shut down private security forces in Afghanistan has many military contractors and assorted peace-builders in a panic. But some humanitarian aid workers in the country contend that a ban isn’t such a bad idea.

    For years, non-governmental organizations operating in Afghanistan have condemned the militarization of humanitarian work, and have struggled to define a role that is distinct from the armed, for-profit development contractors in the conflict zone. Yet usually, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), contractors, humanitarians and development entrepreneurs have all been lumped together under the generic “aid worker” rubric. The Afghan government’s planned prohibition on private security companies (PSCs) could change that, helping to differentiate the humanitarians from other forms of development work.

    Foreign for-profit development contractors have threatened to pull out of Afghanistan, since the August decree issued by Karzai would prevent them from relying on private security companies for protection. Instead, they would have to depend on the Afghan National Police to provide security. The only exceptions would be for military bases and diplomatic missions.

    The ban was originally scheduled to take effect on December 17. But on October 27, Karzai agreed to push back the implementation deadline by two months. Karzai’s administration has come under intense pressure from Washington to relent on the ban.

    Representatives of various humanitarian aid organizations are not worried by the looming ban to anywhere near the same extent as are the for-profit contractors. Many have long been living with high risk in order to deliver their services. Some even say the demise of private security companies would be beneficial.

    “To the extent that it [the ban] helps to de-militarize the environment and to the extent that it reinforces the government’s monopoly on the use of force, I think ultimately it would be a positive thing,” Nic Lee, director of ANSO (Afghanistan NGO Safety Office), a non-profit humanitarian project that monitors safety conditions for the NGO sector, told EurasiaNet.org.

    “There is no type of armed action that is conducive to humanitarian activity,” Lee continued. “So the less armed activity you have is always going to improve humanitarian space and humanitarian access.”

    Many aid workers say they have a moral duty to work without armed protection in order to maintain their neutrality in a conflict zone. Of the 2,000 Afghan and 360 international NGOs operating across Afghanistan, “less than six use the services of a PSC, most commonly to provide unarmed guards at offices and homes,” according to ACBAR (Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief), an NGO umbrella organization.

    In a joint statement issued with ANSO on October 25, ACBAR sought to distance the non-profit NGO community from for-profit contractors, emphasizing “the ban on PSCs will have no negative impact on aid delivery by the vast majority of humanitarian NGOs.”

    While NGOs rely on the communities where they work to ensure their safety, the for-profit “development contractors” often depend on PSCs. Donors support their work as part of NATO’s counter-insurgency strategy, thus bringing them between the military and Taliban militants, and also muddying the waters between non-profit humanitarian work and for-profit development.

    These private development contractors receive the bulk of donor money flowing into Afghanistan largely from the US government’s development arm, USAID. Thus, major donors like USAID have been scrambling for a way to keep their “implementing partners” in the country. Some large USAID contractors like DAI (Development Alternatives, Inc.) have said they would have to close down some projects, if the ban is implemented. Other private development companies have complained to the US Embassy that their employees “will vote with their feet.”

    Donors suggest that their ongoing discussions with the Afghan government will lead to a compromise. But Karzai, despite delaying implementation of the ban, still seems determined to lock private security firms out of Afghanistan, calling them a menace to stability.

    Employing development contractors is a fundamental part of Gen. David Petraeus’ much-touted counter-insurgency strategy. Petraeus, the commander of all NATO forces in Afghanistan, is said to be lobbying Karzai’s government for an exception to the ban that covers a wide array of peace-building activities.

    Even the United Nations is reviewing its programs to assess the ban’s potential impact. With UNAMA (the UN’s umbrella organization in Afghanistan) playing an overt political role, the mission has suffered increasing attacks. An attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul last October left six international UN workers dead. On October 24, UN security repelled an attack on a UN guesthouse in Herat, killing four armed insurgents. The UN hopes its own security forces will be exempted from the new rule.

    Not all donors use private security companies. The Indian Embassy, which has suffered two massive suicide bombings in the past three years, uses a combination of ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police, an Indian government paramilitary organization) and Afghan National Police to guard the embassy, as well as its projects.

    The Canadian government also indicated that a ban would have a minimal impact on aid operations that it sponsors. “Most of our development assistance implementing partners do not use private security firms,” a spokeswoman for the Canadian Embassy said, adding that Ottawa had sought an implementation plan that would allow the international community to remain in Afghanistan while respecting the goals of the presidential decree.

    Please see the original story here

    Editor’s note:

    Aunohita Mojumdar is an Indian freelance journalist based in Kabul. She has reported on the South Asian region for the past 19 years.

    October 28, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, NGO's, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, USAID | , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Anham Says Logistics Contract With U.S. Department of Defense is Final

    Bloomberg Middle East

    Anham FCZO LLC said its logistics contract with the U.S. Department of Defense is final and that it has started to implement it with a view to fully taking over the order by the end of this year.

    “It has been final for a while,” Managing Director Mogheith Sukhtian told reporters today in Kuwait City. “We have a signed contract with the U.S. government.”

    Dubai-based Anham said April 16 it was awarded a $2.2 billion contract by the U.S. Defense Department to provide logistical support to U.S. troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan.

    Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Co., a cargo shipper, said April 28 that it filed an objection to the awarding of the contract to Anham, which it said failed to meet criteria. The U.S. Defense Logistics Agency decided to take “corrective measures” regarding the objection and will receive amended offers from bidders “to take new decisions for a new settlement,” Kuwait & Gulf Link said in July.

    “The protest process is a part of the U.S. government contracting process and it’s conducted in the normal course of U.S government contracts,” Sukhtian said. “So we’re undergoing the process but in the meantime, what we can say, is that the contract is being executed. We anticipate the transition between the incumbent and us to be completed by the end of the year,” Sukhtian added.

    The incumbent contractor, Agility Public Warehousing Co., is the Middle East’s largest storage and logistics company and faces charges of overbilling the U.S government on a multibillion dollar contract to supply food for troops in Kuwait and Iraq. Agility had said it was in talks to resolve legal cases with the U.S. Department of Justice and there was no guarantee a settlement would be agreed.

    A U.S. magistrate recommended the dismissal of an indictment against Agility’s unit, Agility DGS Holdings Inc., in connection with the company’s contract to feed U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait, Agility said Oct. 11. Please see the original story here

     

    October 28, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contract Awards, Iraq, Kuwait | , , , , , | Leave a comment