Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Testing Program Fails Soldiers, Leaving Brain Injuries Undetected

A version [1] of this story was co-produced with NPR and aired on All Things Considered [2]. (Check here for local listings [3].)

T Christian Miller and Joaquin Sapien at ProPublica  and Daniel Zwerdling at NPR

In 2007, with roadside bombs exploding across Iraq, Congress moved to improve care for soldiers who had suffered one of the war’s signature wounds, traumatic brain injury

Lawmakers passed a measure requiring the military to test soldiers’ brain function before they deployed and again when they returned. The test was supposed to ensure that soldiers received proper treatment.

Instead, an investigation by ProPublica and NPR has found, the testing program has failed to deliver on its promise, offering soldiers the appearance of help, but not the reality.

Racing to satisfy Congress’ mandate, the military chose a test that wasn’t actually proven to detect TBI: the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metric, or ANAM.

Four years later, more than a million troops have taken the test at a cost of more than $42 million to taxpayers, yet the military still has no reliable way to catch brain injuries. When such injuries are left undetected, it can delay healing and put soldiers at risk for further mental damage.

Based on corporate and government records, confidential documents, scores of interviews and emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, our investigation found:

  • The people who invented ANAM and stood to make money from it were involved in the military’s decision to use it, prompting questions about the impartiality of the selection process. No other tests received serious consideration. A report [4] by the Army’s top neuropsychologist circulated last year to key members of Congress labeled the selection process “nepotistic.”
  • The Pentagon’s civilian leadership has ignored years of warnings, public and private, that there was insufficient scientific evidence the ANAM can screen for or diagnose traumatic brain injury. The military’s highest-ranking medical official said the test was “fraught with problems.” Another high-ranking officer said it could yield misleading results.
  • Compounding flaws in the ANAM’s design, the military has not administered the test as recommended and has rarely used its results. The Army has so little confidence in the test that its top medical officer issued an explicit order [5] that soldiers whose scores indicated cognitive problems should not be sent for further medical evaluation.
  • Top Pentagon officials have misrepresented the cost of the test, indicating that because the Army invented the ANAM, the military could use it for free. In fact, because the military licensed its invention to outside contractors, it has paid millions of dollars to use its own technology.
  • The military has not conducted a long-promised head-to-head study to make sure the ANAM is the best available test, delaying it for years. Instead, a series of committees have given lukewarm approval to continue using the ANAM, largely to avoid losing the data gathered so far.

Several current and former military medical officials criticized the Defense Department’s embrace of a scientifically unproven tool to use on hundreds of thousands of soldiers with TBIs.

“The test was not developed for the purposes of identifying the kinds of problems that we see in concussions,” said Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a retired brigadier general and former adviser on mental health issues to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. The test was picked “without asking ourselves the questions: what are we trying to achieve here and what are we going to use the screenings for?

Please read the entire article at ProPublica

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors | , , | 1 Comment

Supreme Group Probed over no-bid contracts to feed troops in Afghanistan

Editors Note:  In 2010 nearly 200 Defense Base Act claims were filed by Supreme Group Employees for Afghanistan, some of these dating back as far as 2006.  This scandal involved at least one subcontractor and an Insurance Company TPA.  The results of the investigation into this have been kept from the public.

Supreme Group, a king of U.S. military logistics, earned billions supplying food to troops in Afghanistan. Now, in a case reminiscent of Halliburton’s Iraq scandal, the contractor is under investigation for overbilling taxpayers. Aram Roston reports

Aram Ronston The Daily Beast  November 28, 2011

At first blush, Michael Jacques Gans doesn’t appear to be your typical defense contractor. An attorney by training, Gans spends his spare time racing a mint-condition, sky-blue Bugatti race car—vintage 1927—on tracks across Europe. He doesn’t reside inside Washington’s Beltway, preferring instead his home in Germany or a multimillion-dollar duplex on New York’s Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park.

And Supreme Group, the firm he co-owns with his German-born wife, Nina Von Steuben, and American businessman Stephen Orenstein, is hardly a household name in the U.S. with its main operations in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Dubai. But inside Afghanistan, Supreme is a king of U.S. military logistics, performing a dizzying amount of wartime business that has earned the firm billions of dollars, easily enough to support a luxury lifestyle for its owners.

For the last six years, Supreme has imported all of the U.S military’s food into Afghanistan, and its contract was extended by the Pentagon in 2010 for two years and $4 billion without the normal competitive bidding. But that’s just part of its business. Supreme also runs military mess halls on Forward Operating Bases, trucks gasoline and diesel into Afghanistan from both Uzbekistan and Pakistan, and operates two warehouses that it boasts are now the largest structures in Afghanistan, dwarfing even the country’s ancient palaces. Since 2005, the company’s various Pentagon contracts in Afghanistan have been worth $8 billion.

Supreme makes no bones about its lucrative opportunities. “There is a modern-day Silk Road, a transportation hub, that is coming together in Afghanistan,” Robert Dail, a retired Army general who now serves as Supreme’s U.S.-based president, boasted to a conference for contractors in Washington this month.

Please read this article at The Daily Beast

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act | , , , , , | Leave a comment