Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Pentagon’s War on Drugs Goes Mercenary

Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room  November 22, 2011

An obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs has quietly evolved into a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion.

The sprawling contract, ostensibly designed to stop drug-funded terrorism, seeks security firms for missions like “train[ing] Azerbaijan Naval Commandos.” Other tasks include providing Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopter training “for crew members of the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security.” Still others involve building “anti-terrorism/force protection enhancements” for the Pakistani border force in the tribal areas abutting Afghanistan.

The Defense Department’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office has packed all these tasks and more inside a mega-contract for security firms. The office, known as CNTPO, is all but unknown, even to professional Pentagon watchers. It interprets its counternarcotics mandate very, very broadly, leaning heavily on its implied counterterrorism portfolio. And it’s responsible for one of the largest chunks of money provided to mercenaries in the entire federal government.

CNTPO quietly solicited an umbrella contract for all the security services listed above — and many, many more — on Nov. 9. It will begin handing out the contract’s cash by August. And there is a lot of cash to disburse.

The ceiling for the “operations, logistics and minor construction” tasks within CNTPO’s contract is $950 million. Training foreign forces tops out at $975 million. “Information” tasks yield $875 million. The vague “program and program support” brings another $240 million.

That puts CNTPO in a rare category. By disbursing at least $3 billion — likely more, since the contract awards come with up to three yearlong re-ups — the office is among the most lucrative sources of cash for private security contractors. The largest, from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, doles out a $10 billion, five-year deal known as the Worldwide Protective Services contract

Please read the entire story at the Danger Room

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Central America, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Pentagon, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latin American counternarcotics contractors lack accountability, senator says

“Are you kidding me?” she asked the witnesses. “Have we gotten to the point where we have to hire a contractor to prepare for a hearing on contractor oversight?

By Dana Hedgpeth Washington Post

A key lawmaker questioned Thursday whether the U.S. government is adequately overseeing the roughly $1 billion it pays contractors to help governments in Latin America combat production and trafficking of illegal drugs.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who chairs a subcommittee on contracting oversight, criticized the State Department and Pentagon for their monitoring and management of large contracts that supply counternarcotics assistance to governments in Central and South America. The contractors provide a range of services, including the training of local police forces and the eradication of coca plants used to produce cocaine.

McCaskill said the agencies had been slow to provide her office with the most basic information, including how much is being spent, what kind of work is being performed and whether periodic evaluations and audits are being done. Companies receiving contracts from the agencies include Northrop Grumman, ITT Systems, Lockheed Martin and DynCorp. The United States has issued similar contracts for counternarcotics work in Afghanistan.

“It makes us worry if somebody is minding the store,” McCaskill said. “I have an uneasy feeling that there’s much more oversight that needs to be done.”

William F. Wechsler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics and global threats, agreed there was room for improvement. In his written testimony, he said his office “found inconsistent records management” among the multiple agencies that oversee the counternarcotics contracting work. He also said that the “volume of procurement activities overwhelms staff capacity in some instances” and that “many of the acquisition steps are manual processes that are both time-consuming and error-prone.”

Wechsler said that the agency needed to “do a better job in evaluating its programs and measuring the return on its dollars” and that an internal management review would be underway by early summer.

McCaskill also expressed concern that Pentagon officials said they had to hire an outside contractor for $50,000 over the past few months to just pull the necessary paperwork to prepare for her hearing because they didn’t have enough government workers.

“Are you kidding me?” she asked the witnesses. “Have we gotten to the point where we have to hire a contractor to prepare for a hearing on contractor oversight? Original Story here

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Pentagon, State Department | , , , , , , | Leave a comment