Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Defense contractors object to revised rule on withholding payments

The Pentagon is encountering continued resistance to its proposal to withhold a portion of payments to any contractor that uses flawed accounting and pricing systems.

By Sean Reilly at Federal Times

The Defense Department argues the proposal is needed since flawed vendor business systems could inflate what vendors charge the department for goods and services.

The Pentagon proposed the new rule after the independent, bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting said in a 2009 report that auditors have been unable to verify billions of dollars worth of vendor-claimed costs charged to the Defense Department in connection with the military and reconstruction operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a proposed rule published January 2010, the Defense Department had wanted to withhold 10 percent of contract payments if certain vendor business systems were found to be deficient. That proposal hit stiff opposition from industry groups.  Please read the entire article here

Thanks to Federal Times for keeping on top of this

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracing, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Pentagon, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan’s push to tax U.S. contractors could renew tensions

Karen DeYoung and Joshua Partlow at The Washington Post

The Afghan government is ramping up efforts to tax U.S. contractors operating there – an effort that could raise millions for the cash-strapped government but could also provoke fresh confrontation with the United States, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

Taxation of U.S. government assistance is barred by U.S. law, as well as by a number of bilateral accords between Afghanistan and the United States. But the wording in the documents is vague, and the two governments disagree on what “tax-exempt” means.

Non-Afghan contractors who have recently received tax bills for work done under U.S. government programs say they have appealed to the Defense and State departments to clarify the matter with the Afghans. But they have been told simply to ignore the bills and “stand up for our rights,” said one official of an American company that has multiple U.S defense contracts in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government says no clarification is needed. It has started to send out what it says are overdue tax bills and has threatened some U.S. companies with arrests, loss of licenses and confiscation of aid goods.

“I don’t need any new plan [to require a] foreign company to pay tax,” Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal said in a text message in response to questions. “Whatever is not exempted by law and treaties will not be exempted.” Afghanistan, he said, is “serious against tax evasion.”

The simmering controversy is the latest in a series of run-ins between the Afghan government and the U.S.-led coalition that spends up to $10 billion a year on private contractors in Afghanistan, more than five times the $1.8 billion in total revenue the Afghan government expects to take in by the end of the fiscal year in March

The most recent public disagreement, over the fate of private security companies, remains unresolved.

Earlier this month, President Hamid Karzai approved a plan to require all new foreign development projects to employ government security guards rather than those from private Afghan and foreign companies. But the government guards – known as the Afghan Public Protection Force – still don’t exist except on paper. NATO’s new development projects would require an estimated 25,000 guards.

‘Issue for quite a while’

The Afghan government has long urged foreign donors to funnel their billions through government ministries, rather than paying for projects directly to contractors. Karzai has regularly complained about what he calls “parallel structures,” such as the coalition-run provincial reconstruction teams, which dole out vast sums to build roads, dams or other projects that are not always aligned with Afghan priorities.

Please read the entire article here

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, Private Security Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

AFGHANISTAN: Red Crescent wants more funding but not at any price

KABUL, 17 January 2011 (IRIN) – The Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) is always keen to get more funding but is unwilling to take money from some major donors for fear its impartiality could be compromised.

“We don’t accept funds from donors such as USAID [US Agency for International Development] because with their money we would not be able to treat a wounded Taliban or the diseased children of a Talib,” ARCS director Fatima Guillani told IRIN.

USAID says “as part of the US Government effort” it supports the Afghan government in providing services and security for its citizens. “Long-term development thrives best in stable conditions and so USAID works as a partner to the joint Afghan-US Government counterinsurgency strategy to implement programs that improve lives throughout the country,” says USAID’s Afghanistan strategy.

ARCS with over 40,000 volunteers and 1,500 staff, has access to over 90 percent of the country, and is able to save lives and deliver assistance in areas which are inaccessible to the UN and foreign aid agencies, Guillani said, adding that it had assisted “millions” in 2010.  Read the entire article here

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, USAID | , , , | Leave a comment

Sean Brehms wife Carol gets little help from South Africa

‘SA consular authorities a brick wall’

Cape Times at Independent Online

Sean Brehm, the South African contractor arrested in Afghanistan and deported to the US, could face 10 years in jail after being charged with assault and grievous bodily harm.

Brehm was charged last week by a federal grand jury in Virginia, after he allegedly stabbed a British security expert, John Osborne, at a Nato base in Kandahar. The trial is expected to start in May.

His wife Carol Brehm is yet to visit him since his arrest in November. She said the US had been more supportive than the South African government.

“I’ve just come from the US consulate and they’ve given me a 10-year visa. They were very helpful and supportive … in fact the Americans have been better than the South Africans,” she said.

The Cape Times previously reported Carol had complained of meeting a “brick wall” when dealing with the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRC).

She maintained that the South African government had not kept its promises.

“Nobody from the South African embassy in Washington has visited Sean – I was told that would happen but it hasn’t yet,” she said. She was disappointed her passport application had not been fast-tracked, and remained unconvinced by pledges of support made to the Cape Times by DIRC spokesman Clayson Monyela.

Carol received a letter from the DIRC informing her she would receive no financial support to visit her jailed husband.

Sean is reportedly struggling to cope in prison. She has asked that he be given access to a psychologist and chaplain.

Support from friends, family and international airlines has ensured she can afford to visit her husband in February.

Monyela said: “We can say that we are noting her concerns … and we will assist wherever possible.”

On the issue of passports, Monyela said: “She called to see if the process could be fast-tracked. We said this is not normal practice…because passports are dealt with by Home Affairs.  Please see the original here

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, DynCorp, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Road to defense contracting led through the battlefield

By Marjorie Censor at The Washington Post

It wasn’t until Dawn Halfaker had to put an Army uniform back on to greet soldiers returning from Iraq that she knew she had to find a new career

Despite losing her right arm during a tour in Iraq, Halfaker had hoped she could stay in the military. After recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, she was invited to meet her returning unit but required to don her uniform again. The realization that she was unable to pin her medals on or to salute drove home Halfaker’s loss.

“This just isn’t going to work,” she recalled thinking.

Halfaker, who had played college basketball and trained military police in Iraq, went on to found Halfaker & Associates, an Arlington-based contractor that provides a range of consulting and information technology services primarily to military customers, including helping the Army modernize its recruiting practices and manning operations and intelligence centers. Halfaker said the company brought in $15.5 million in revenue last year. She’s among other soldiers who, motivated by their experiences on the battlefield and aided by their personal connections, have launched their own companies.

Halfaker was drawn to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when she was recruited to play basketball. She graduated in 2001, and, after a yearlong stint in Korea, went to Fort Stewart, Ga., to get ready for deployment. In February 2004, she traveled to Baqubah, Iraq, where she lived among and trained Iraqi police.

In June 2004, Halfaker was on a routine patrol when a rocket-propelled grenade came through her vehicle’s window. She was flown out of Iraq and kept in a medically induced coma until she eventually ended up at Walter Reed. There, her parents broke the news that she had lost her arm. Read the entire story here

Six days later, Halfaker was a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center here, about to lose her arm to a life-threatening infection.

More Women Bear the Wounds of War

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Acinetobacter, Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor | , , , , , , | Leave a comment