Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

State Department closed US Embassy in Syria

The Washington Times February 6, 2012

The State Department on Monday suspended operations at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and pulled all its staff, including Ambassador Robert Ford, out of the country.

The State Department cited the recent surge in violence for its decision.

“Bombings in Damascus on December 23 and January 6, has raised serious concerns that our Embassy is not sufficiently protected from armed attack,” the State Department said.

The government of President Bashar Assad did not respond “adequately” to security concerns raised by the U.S. and other diplomatic missions, it added

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February 6, 2012 Posted by | State Department, Syria | , , , , | Leave a comment

SIGIR Reports: Hey, Anybody Know What Happened to the $2 Billion?

David Isenberg at The Huffington Post  February 6, 2012

See also at Davids Blog The PMC Observer

The latest Quarterly and Semiannual Report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) was released January 30, 2012. What follows are relevant excerpts of some of the more noteworthy contractor related activities.

On December 21, a U.S. contractor was sentenced to 3 months confinement followed by 2 years of supervised release for lying to federal agents during the course of an investigation. The agents were investigating a fraud scheme involving the theft and resale of generators in Iraq to various entities, including the U.S. government. When he was initially interviewed in Iraq, he denied any involvement in the fraud scheme. The investigation demonstrated that he had in fact signed fraudulent U.S. documents and received money on several occasions for his part in the scheme.

As of December 31, 2011, the Defense and State departments and the US Agency for International Development had reported 88,380 contracting actions, projects, and grants, totaling $40.31 billion in cumulative obligation.

As of January 23, 2012, 15,154 employees of U.S.-funded contractors and grantees supported DoD, DoS, USAID, and other U.S. agencies in Iraq. The number of contractor employees declined by 72% since the end of last quarter, dropping from the 53,447 registered as of September 30, 2011.

As you would expect, now that the U.S. mission has been handed off to the State Department, the largest number of contractors, 9,228, are working for State, with 3,823 of those being American.

The second largest share is working for the U.S. Army, which has a total of 5,118 under contract, with 2,737 of the American.

One very interesting point comes towards the end, in the section on oversight. To appreciate this a little trip down memory lane is in order.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) — anyone remember Paul Bremer? — was established in May 2003 to provide for the temporary governance of Iraq. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 created the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and assigned the CPA full responsibility for managing it. The DFI comprised revenues from Iraqi oil and gas sales, certain remaining Oil for Food deposits, and repatriated national assets. It was used, in part, for Iraq relief and reconstruction efforts.

During its almost 14-month governance, the CPA had access to $20.7 billion in DFI funds and directed expenditures of about $14.1 billion. The CPA had $6.6 billion under its control when its mission ended on June 28, 2004. The Government of Iraq OI gave DoD access to about $3 billion of these funds to pay bills for contracts the CPA awarded prior to its dissolution.

Most of these funds were deposited into a DFI sub-account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) established for this purpose.

SIGIR initiated an audit to determine whether DoD properly accounted for its use of the $2.8 billion deposited into the DFI sub-account at the FRBNY after the CPA dissolved, and $217.7 million in cash that remained in the presidential palace vault when the CPA dissolved. Here is what it found:

DoD cannot account for about two-thirds of the approximately $3 billion in DFI funds made available to it by the GOI for making payments on contracts the CPA awarded prior to its dissolution.Most of these funds ($2.8 billion) were held in the DFI sub-account at the FRBNY; the remainder ($217.7 million) was held in the presidential palace vault in Baghdad. FRBNY records show that DoD made about $2.7 billion in payments from the DFI sub-account. However, the FRBNY does not have specifics about the payments or financial documents, such as vendor invoices, to support them. It required only written approval from the GOI to issue payment.

Although DoD had responsibility for maintaining documentation to support the full $2.7 billion in expenditures made from the FRBNY subaccount, it could provide SIGIR documentation to support only about $1 billion. Although DoD established internal processes and controls to report sub-account payments to the GOI, the bulk of the records are missing. As a result, SIGIR’s review was limited to the $1 billion in available records. SIGIR examined 15 payments from this group and found most of the key supporting financial documents.

Follow David Isenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanidan

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Contractors Arrested, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, SIGIR | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction January 2012 Quarterly Report

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction

January 2012 Quarterly Report

Public Laws 108-106 and 95-452, as ammended

Quarterly Report and Semi-Annual Report to the United States Congress

Click here to see report

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, SIGIR | , , , | Leave a comment

Truth, lies and Afghanistan

How military leaders have let us down
By LT. COL. DANIEL L. DAVIS
Armed Forces Journal  February

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.

 Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.
Please go to Armed Forces Journal and read this in it’s entirety here

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SRI LANKA: Mine clearance could take 10 years or more

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

COLOMBO, 6 February 2012 (IRIN) – Landmine clearance in Sri Lanka’s conflict-affected north could take more than a decade, experts say.

“It is expected to take [in] excess of 10 years to fully mitigate all remaining contamination in Sri Lanka,” the Mine Action Project of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka told IRIN, citing a lack of resources coupled with the difficult nature of the work.

Approximately 126 sqkm of land remains to be cleared in the island’s north at the end of 2011, according to data from the National Mine Action Centre (NMAC).

Set up in July 2010, NMAC is the government’s lead agency in de-mining work in the country.

As of 31 December 2011, the largest remaining area was in Mannar District (33.8 sqkm), followed by Mullaitivu (27.7 sqkm), Kilinochchi (23 sqkm), Vavuniya (15 sqkm) and Jaffna (5 sqkm) in the north.

Smaller areas are in borderline districts of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, along with some parts of the east.

Barrier to return

More than 6,700 conflict-displaced, mainly from Mullaitivu District, continue to live at Menik Farm outside the town of Vavuniya, where more than 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) once lived following the end of the war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland since 1983.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), since 1 January 2009, more than 554 sqkm have been cleared of mines and UXO (unexploded ordnance) in the north and east of the country.

The humanitarian demining unit of the Sri Lanka Army, international organizations – Danish Demining Group (DDG), HALO Trust, Horizon, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Sarvatra, and Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD)] – and two national organizations – Delvon Assistance for Social Harmony (DASH) and the Milinda Moragoda Institute for Peoples’ Empowerment (MMIPE)] – are engaged in demining work.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) carries out mine risk awareness programmes in the north and east.

Please see the original and read more of this article here

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Humanitarian Assistance, Landmines, Mine Clearance, Sri Lanka, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Egypt Defies U.S. by Setting Trial for 19 Americans on Criminal Charges

The prosecution could hardly have been better designed to provoke an American backlash. Although the charges against the 19 Americans are part of a broader crackdown on as many as nine nonprofit groups here, its most prominent targets are two American-financed groups with close ties to the Congressional leadership, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute. Both are chartered to promote democracy abroad with nonpartisan training and election monitoring.

The New York TImes February 5, 2012

CAIRO — Egypt’s military-led government said Sunday that it would put 19 Americans and two dozen others on trial in a politically charged criminal investigation into the foreign financing of nonprofit groups that has shaken the 30-year alliance between the United States and Egypt.

The decision raises tensions between the two allies to a new peak at a decisive moment in Egypt’s political transition after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak a year ago. Angry protesters are battling security forces in the streets of the capital and other major cities. The economy is in urgent need of billions of dollars in foreign aid. And the military rulers are in the final stages of negotiations with the Islamists who dominate the new Parliament over the terms of a transfer of power that could set the country’s course for decades.

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February 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Egypt, Humanitarian Assistance, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues, USAID | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

45 mil. rounds of M1 ammo exported to US Private Contractor

By Lee Tae-hoon The Korea Times  February 6, 2012

Seoul has sold millions of rounds of leftover M1 ammunition, most of which it believes to have received from Washington during the 1950-53 Korean War to private contractors in the United States, defense sources said Monday.

“Korea exported 45 million rounds of M1 ammunition for 3.96 billion won ($3.53 million) to the United States from 2002 through 2005 to raise money needed to buy new bullets,” a senior defense official said.

He added that South Korea also sold a retired C-500 transport plane for 100 million won in 2006 to PW Arms, an arms importer in the United States.

The official, however, noted it was unclear how much of the aging ammunition was from that given to the South Korean armed forces for free in the 1950s by the U.S. and that produced under license here in the 1970s by Poongsan.

“We have looked into our system, but it was difficult to determine how much of the wartime stocks accounted for the total sales and for what purpose the M1 ammo was imported,” another defense official said

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February 6, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Korea | , , , , | Leave a comment