Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Federal contractors get 10 percent raise

“Excessive reimbursements are wrong and must stop,” Mack said. “We call on Congress to follow the lead of those members who have already recognized the importance of lowering the executive compensation cap so that taxpayers are no longer liable for these wasteful and unnecessary payments.”

Washington Post  Joe Davidson  The Federal Diary May 7, 2012

Uncle Sam isn’t as flush as he used to be, but he still has enough money to pay individual private contractors as much as $763,029.

That’s the federal cap on reimbursement to executives of private firms doing government work. The cap was raised in April, from $693,951, by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy

It’s worth pointing out that this 10 percent raise comes as federal employees are in the midst of a two-year freeze on basic pay rates.

But Obama administration officials had no choice in raising the cap. The compensation formula was set by law.

“In accordance with an outdated statute, the federal government was forced to raise the cap on agency reimbursements to contractors for the pay of senior executives who contract with the government,” said Moira Mack, an Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman. “With this latest congressionally mandated increase, taxpayers will be on the hook for contractor reimbursements far in excess of what is reasonable.”

A notice to federal agency heads, from Lesley A. Field, acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said “this rate of growth in the cap . . . has far outpaced the rate of inflation, the rate of growth of private-sector salaries generally, and the rate of growth of Federal salaries — forcing our taxpayers to reimburse contractors for levels of executive compensation that cannot be justified for Federal contract work

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May 7, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Government Contractor | , , | Leave a comment

America’s Shame: The U.S. Government’s Human Trafficking Dilemma

Project on Government Oversight  May 7, 2012

For Vinnie Tuivaga, the offer was the answer to a prayer: A job in a luxury hotel in Dubai–the so-called Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf–making five times what she was earning as a hair stylist in her native Fiji.

She jumped at the chance, even if it meant paying an upfront commission to the recruiter.

You probably know how this story is going to end. There was no high-paying job, luxury location or easy work.

Tuivaga and other Fijians ended up in Iraq where they lived in shipping containers and existed in what amounted to indentured servitude.

Journalist Sarah Stillman told Tuivaga’s story and that of tens of thousands of other foreign workers in acute detail almost a year ago in her New Yorker piece, “The Invisible Army.”

In some cases, Stillman found more severe abuses and more squalid living conditions than what Tuivaga and her fellow Fijians experienced.

But like Tuivaga, thousands of foreign nationals in the U.S. government’s invisible army ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones because they fell victim to human traffickers.

Let that sink in.

This human trafficking pipeline wasn’t benefitting some shadowy war lord or oppressive regime. No, these are workers who were feeding, cleaning up after, and providing logistical support for U.S. troops—the standard-bearers of the free and democratic world.

In its final report to Congress last year, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said it had uncovered evidence of human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan by labor brokers and subcontractors. Commissioner Dov Zakheim later told a Senate panel that the Commission had only scratched the surface of the problem. He called it the “tip of the iceberg.”

In essence, despite a 2002 presidential directive that set a “zero tolerance” on human trafficking, modern-day slavers have been operating with impunity under the aegis of the U.S. government.

Nick Schwellenbach, who until last month was the director of investigations at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), and author David Isenberg also wrote about the conditions some of these foreign workers endured in Iraq.

Nick and David uncovered documents that showed how one U.S. contractor—in this case KBR—was well aware that one of its subcontractors, Najlaa International Catering Services, was involved in trafficking abuses.

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May 7, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Halliburton, Human Trafficking, Iraq, KBR, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Slaves to the private military in Iraq Cheap help from Uganda

Private security firms won lucrative contracts to supply support staff and security guards to back up US forces in Iraq. They recruited Ugandans and pushed them to the limit, on low pay and no benefits

Like all foreign nationals working for PMCs under contract to the Pentagon, sick or wounded Ugandans repatriated from Iraq are, in principle, covered by the Defense Base Act, which guarantees that their employer’s insurer will reimburse their medical expenses. It also provides for disability pay for the most unfortunate. “But, all too often, the Ugandans do not receive the medical care and disability that they are supposed to,” American lawyer Tara K Coughlin told me.

by Alain Vicky LeMonde Diplomatique  May 6, 2012

“I realised immediately that I’d just made the worst mistake in my life. But it was too late. I’d signed up for a year. I had to take it like a man,” said Bernard (1), a young Ugandan who worked for an American private military company (PMC) operating in Iraq. He was part of the “invisible army” (2) recruited by the US to support its war effort. Bernard returned to Uganda last year. He is ill, but has been denied the welfare and healthcare benefits promised in his contract.

White recruits — from the US, Israel, South Africa, the UK, France and Serbia — hired by PMCs that have won contracts with the Pentagon (worth $120bn since 2003) have received substantial pay, often more than $10,000 a month; “third country nationals” (TCNs) like Bernard have been treated badly and their rights as employees have been abused. Some, sent home after being wounded, get no help from their former employers.

In June 2008, when the US began its withdrawal from Iraq, there were 70,167 TCNs to 153,300 regular US military personnel; in late 2010 there were still 40,776 TCNs to 47,305 regulars. TCNs (men and women) were recruited in the countries of the South to work on the 25 US military bases in Iraq, including Camp Liberty, an “American small town” built near Baghdad, which at its peak had a population of over 100,000. They made up 59% of the “basic needs” workforce, handling catering, cleaning, electrical and building maintenance, fast food, and even beauty services for female military personnel.

Some, especially African recruits, were assigned to security duties, paired up with regular troops: 15% of the static security personnel (guarding base entrances and perimeters) hired by the PMCs on behalf of the Pentagon were Sub-Saharans. Among these low-cost guards, Ugandans were a majority, numbering maybe 20,000. They were sometimes used to keep their colleagues in line: in May 2010 they quelled a riot at Camp Liberty by a thousand TCNs from the Indian subcontinent.

The high ratio of Ugandans was due to the political situation in central Africa in the early 2000s. In western Uganda the war in the Great Lakes region was officially over. In northern Uganda the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels had been brought under control. In neighbouring Sudan the civil war was over, opening up the way to independence for the south (3). More than 60,000 Ugandan troops were demobilised; Iraq seemed like an opportunity. The Ugandan government, a key ally of the US in central Africa, was one of the few to support the Bush administration when the Iraq war began in 2003. US and Ugandan armed forces have collaborated since the mid-1980s. Ugandan journalist and blogger Angelo Izama (4) told me that in 2005 the US needed more paramilitary security — “They were looking for reliable labour from English-speaking countries, veteran labour” — and turned to Uganda.

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May 7, 2012 Posted by | Africa, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, DynCorp, Follow the Money, Iraq | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US abandons consulate site in Afghanistan, citing security risks

Washington Post May 6, 2012

After signing a 10-year lease and spending more than $80 million on a site envisioned as the United States’ diplomatic hub in northern Afghanistan, American officials say they have abandoned their plans, deeming the location for the proposed compound too dangerous.

Eager to raise an American flag and open a consulate in a bustling downtown district of the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, officials in 2009 sought waivers to stringent State Department building rules and overlooked significant security problems at the site, documents show. The problems included relying on local building techniques that made the compound vulnerable to a car bombing, according to an assessment by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that was obtained by The Washington Post.

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May 7, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , | Leave a comment

Marine EOD, Sgt John Patrick Huling killed by Afghan National Army Soldier

Cincinnati.com  May 6, 2012

A local U.S. Marine has been killed in Afghanistan.

The Marine Corps informed Sgt. John Patrick (JP) Huling’s mother, Debbie Huling, on Sunday that he was killed while on foot patrol in Anwar Province.

“He was brave and selfless and gave his life for his country so everybody could enjoy the freedom that we live now,” said Huling of West Chester.

Huling said that he was ambushed by a man who appeared to be an Afghan military policeman. She said she was led to believe that the man may have been a Taliban militant.

Sgt. Huling, 25, suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. He was flown to a hospital, where he later died.

The Moeller High School graduate and bomb disposal specialist is survived by his wife of two years, Priscilla, and their dog, Soco; a brother, Justin, 23, who also is a Marine; a sister, Lauren Coach, 30, of Cincinnati and a niece, Tyrah, 12.

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May 7, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Bomb Disposal, Explosive Ordnance Disposal | , , , , , , | Leave a comment