Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

GOP, Dems come together to fight human trafficking by contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan

The Hill

A bipartisan group of members from the House and Senate proposed legislation on Monday that seeks to crack down on human trafficking by contractors that the U.S. military hires for work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act is a reaction to reports from the Commission on Wartime Contracting and the inspectors general of the Defense and State departments that overseas contractors are known to engage in practices that are illegal under U.S. employee rights standards. These include seizing workers’ passports to trap them at a work site, lying about compensation, engaging in sexual abuse and generally keeping workers in a state of indentured servitude.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would help improve the treatment of third-country workers who are lured to work in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be defrauded or enslaved.

“Modern-day slavery by government contractors — unknowingly funded by American taxpayers — is unconscionable and intolerable,” Blumenthal said. “Current law prohibiting human trafficking is insufficient and ineffective, failing to prevent or punish abuses

Blumenthal’s bill, S. 2234, is also co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

The House companion bill, H.R. 4259, was sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), and is co-sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.).

Issa’s committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., with Blumenthal and Portman expected to testify on the bill at that time

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March 28, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Human Trafficking, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rep. Issa Questions Obama’s ‘Private Army’ in Iraq, Afghanistan

by Nathan Hodge at Washington Wire  Oct 6, 2011

The U.S. government’s reliance on private security contractors is no secret: Earlier this year, State Department officials disclosed plans to hire a 5,100-strong force to guard diplomats, guard embassy buildings and operate a fleet of aircraft and armored vehicles in Iraq.

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wants answers from the White House on how much more this private force may grow.

“Americans would be shocked to learn that during your administration, in fact, the numbers [of private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan] have drastically increased,” Rep. Issa said in a letter sent this week to President Barack Obama. “Despite poor oversight and unacceptable levels of waste, fraud and abuse, the numbers of private security contractor boots on the ground and the price tag have only gone up during your administration.”

In his letter, Rep. Issa requested the administration provide more specifics on its plans for hiring private security. “The American people have a right to know the past, present, and future status of private security contractors in these regions,” he wrote.

Rep. Issa, in many respects, is taking a page from Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), his predecessor as chair of the oversight committee, who held a series of hearings on 2007 to probe the George W. Bush administration’s dependence on private security contractors. His letter even quotes Rep. Waxman, who grilled Erik Prince, founder of security firm Blackwater, in a high-profile hearing, asking: “Are we paying more and getting less?”

But Rep. Issa also noted Mr. Obama’s own skepticism about the use of contractors while on the campaign trail.

“I do not believe we have an answer to Chairman Waxman’s question,” he said.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a congressionally mandated panel that led a three-year investigation into battlefield contracting, recently recommended that the U.S. government look for ways to reduce its dependence on security contractors.

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | 1 Comment

Bill giving flags to families of federal workers killed in the line of duty appears poised to pass

by Ed O’Keefe  Federal Eye The Washington Post  August 7, 2011

House lawmakers get back to work today and plan to vote on a bill dealing with federal workers. Amazingly — after years of acrimonious political debate and disagreement over the fate of federal workers — the legislation appears poised to pass with bipartisan approval.

The Civilian Service Recognition Act would require federal agencies to give flags to the families of federal employees killed in the line of duty.

Though the honor is normally reserved for military service members and veterans, Hanna says his bill “would provide a modest, but significant, benefit in honor of these dedicated individuals who sacrificed on our behalf.”

Since 1992, 2,965 federal workers have been killed while on duty, including diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan and an Internal Revenue Service killed when a small aircraft crashed into his Austin office building.

The bill, authored by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), would authorize agencies to pay for a flag for workers killed while on the job, to send the flag to the worker’s family at their request and to let workers know that the option is available. In order to make this happen, the bill also authorizes agencies to disclose information showing that the worker died, so long as revealing the information doesn’t jeopardize national security.

The bill has dozens of cosponsors of both parties and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — a frequent critic of feds — is also pushing for the bill’s passage

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September 7, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Federal Workers | , , , | Leave a comment

Taliban takes U.S. funds, report says


WASHINGTON — Taliban and Afghan warlords are extorting some of the $2.16 billion the Defense Department has paid to local contractors who transport food, water, ammunition and fuel to U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, according to a House investigation to be released Tuesday.

Trucking contractors say they pay as much as $150,000 a month to warlords in “protection” money, and investigators concluded that payments for safe passage are a significant source of Taliban funding, according to a report by the staff of Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., who heads the House national security and foreign affairs subcommittee.

In a letter to subcommittee members, Tierney criticized the Pentagon for a contract “that put responsibility for the security of vital U.S. supplies on contractors and their unaccountable security providers.”

He wrote, “This arrangement has fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders and corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others.” He said the payoffs violate the law and appear “to risk undermining the U.S. strategy for achieving its goals in Afghanistan.”

Defense Department officials are scheduled to discuss the findings with the subcommittee today. Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the Defense Department is looking into the allegations.

Eight contractors control about 70% of the transportation business in Afghanistan and serve more than 200 U.S. military bases. They work with Afghan security contractors, who cut deals with warlords and the Taliban to allow convoys to pass, the report says.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., questioned the inquiry’s thoroughness, noting that the only record of the interviews is handwritten notes.

The report cites e-mails, interviews with contractors and other documents that indicate payoffs are part of doing business.

A program manager for one trucking company told subcommittee investigators that Commander Ruhullah, a warlord who works with a private security company and controls a critical stretch of road between the capital city of Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, works closely with the Taliban. Ruhullah denied it.

The report said contractors repeatedly raised their concerns to the U.S. military about payoffs, sometimes as much as $15,000 per truck.

One contractor wrote to the Army unit overseeing trucking contractors, “I also believe that most involved in this contract knew that cash money is often the most effective security, but I do not think it was anticipated how the market would drive these prices and that cash security and special security forces would so often be the only option.”  Original here

June 21, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Pentagon | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment