Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Plan would restore some war zone benefits

Federal Times April 16, 2012

Federal employees serving in war zones abroad would get the same rest-and recuperation-leave benefits available to Foreign Service Officers under a Defense Department legislative proposal last week.

Non-Foreign Service employees lost those benefits Oct. 1 when Congress failed to renew them, but the proposal would once again require agencies to pay for their rest-and-recuperation travel.

Deployed feds would be able to return to the U.S., or to visit other foreign countries, once for every continuous two-year deployment or twice for every three-year deployment.

The proposal would also require agencies to pay for an employee’s travel in case of a personal emergency.

And it calls for at least the Washington-area locality payment for Foreign Service Officers and other civilian employees when deployed to a war zone. Foreign Service Officers have long pushed to receive locality payments when they serve abroad.

Please see the original and read more here

April 15, 2012 Posted by | Department of Defense | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon to Withhold Lockheed Payments Over Tracking Flaws

Bloomberg Businessweek  Tony Capaccio  February 28, 2012

Lockheed Martin Corp., the No. 1 U.S. defense contractor, is the first company to have payments withheld under a new Pentagon rule intended to correct deficiencies with internal systems that track cost, schedules, accounting and purchases, according to the Defense Department.

The Pentagon will withhold about $1 million a month in billings from Lockheed’s aeronautics division until the unit fixes longstanding shortcomings with its cost and schedule tracking system, Shay Assad, the Pentagon’s director of pricing, said today in an interview.

The money will be paid once the deficiencies are fixed, he said. The Pentagon today informed Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Texas- based aircraft unit that the withholding will start in March with billings made under a new production contract of about $4 billion for as many as 30 F-35 fighters, Assad said. The funds held back will amount to 2 percent of billings instead of the maximum 5 percent, he said.

That’s because Lockheed was deemed to have submitted an adequate corrective action plan, which is now under review by the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Management Agency, Assad said. The agency manages the new rule for Pentagon contracts.

“This is a step that’s available to the customer under the terms of the contract,” Joe Stout, a spokesman for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, said in an e-mailed statement

Please see the original and read more here

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Committee wants checks on defense industry’s supply chain

DOD’s supply chain management has been on GAO’s High Risk List since 1990

By Matthew Weigelt    May 13, 2011  Federal Computer Week

The House Armed Services Committee’s defense authorization bill would require defense officials to research where they’re getting their supplies in the age of the global marketplace.

The fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540) would require the Defense Department to conduct an assessment of its industrial base to find any potential gaps that may affect the military’s operations.

Then, the Government Accountability Office would be double-checking DOD’s work to make sure it’s actually complete. GAO would review how DOD did its assessment and that recommendations for better management are reasonable, according the bill.

Please see the original at Federal Computer Week

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense | , , , | Leave a comment

Army Acquisition Chief: Fixed-Price Contracts Lead to Inflated Bids

by Jack Moore at Executive Gov

A top member of the Army’s acquisition personnel said the Defense Department’s growing reliance on fixed-price contracts could have unnoticed side effects.

Assistant Army Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Malcolm O’Neill, at a Professional Services Council event last week, said Army contracting officers have increasingly noticed contractors submitting inflated bids, likely as a way of offsetting the risk that is typically shifted to industry under a fixed-price deal, Federal Times reports.

“There is risk when [contractors] take something fixed price,” O’Neill said. “But in my experience when you offer a fixed-price bid, it’s 10 percent to 15 percent more than you need.”

That, O’Neill said, is an example of a contractor shirking risk and providing itself with a “cushion.”

Other types of contracts, such as cost-reimbursement, time-and-materials and sole-source, have been frowned upon by the Office of Management and Budget as “high risk,” Federal Times reports.

Please read the entire article here

March 14, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracting, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

Defense contractors object to revised rule on withholding payments

The Pentagon is encountering continued resistance to its proposal to withhold a portion of payments to any contractor that uses flawed accounting and pricing systems.

By Sean Reilly at Federal Times

The Defense Department argues the proposal is needed since flawed vendor business systems could inflate what vendors charge the department for goods and services.

The Pentagon proposed the new rule after the independent, bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting said in a 2009 report that auditors have been unable to verify billions of dollars worth of vendor-claimed costs charged to the Defense Department in connection with the military and reconstruction operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a proposed rule published January 2010, the Defense Department had wanted to withhold 10 percent of contract payments if certain vendor business systems were found to be deficient. That proposal hit stiff opposition from industry groups.  Please read the entire article here

Thanks to Federal Times for keeping on top of this

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracing, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Pentagon, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defense bans contractors from interrogating detainees

By Robert Brodsky rbrodsky@govexec.com November 4, 2010 at Government Executive

The Pentagon has issued an interim rule that would formally prevent private contractors from interrogating detainees in military custody.

The notice, published on Wednesday in the Federal Register, implements a fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act provision by allowing only government personnel to question detainees.

The statute, however, does permit the Defense secretary to waive the prohibition temporarily if doing so is “vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

Interrogation is a key tool for the United States and its allies to win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the practice must operate legally and should support the military’s mission overseas, according to the rule.

“It is imperative that contractor activities in support of these efforts comply with the law and do not detract from the commander’s intent in order to contribute to mission success,” the draft regulation stated. “A lack of compliance affects the perception of both local citizens and the international community, which would provide support to our adversaries that will adversely impact the U.S. government’s efforts.”

The CIA already has stopped using private contractors for interrogations.

While private sector firms will not be allowed to grill detainees, they will be permitted to assist in the interrogation.

At the request of the Obama administration, lawmakers revised the 2010 authorization measure to allow contractor personnel with proper training and security clearances to serve as linguists, interpreters, report writers, information technology technicians, and trainers and advisers to the interrogators.

The contractors must be subject to the same laws, rules, procedures and policies as the government interrogators, and qualified and trained Defense Department personnel must oversee them to ensure they do not perform prohibited activities.

“In some limited cases, a contract interrogator may possess the best combination of skills to obtain critical intelligence, and this provision, therefore, could prevent U.S. forces from conducting lawful interrogations in the most effective manner,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a July 2009 statement of policy on the Defense measure.

The final version of the law defines detainees as “enemy prisoners of war, civilian internees and retained personnel” but not Defense Department or contractor personnel being held for law enforcement purposes.

The provision was a response to allegations that employees of private firms CACI International Inc. and L-3 Communication (formerly Titan Corp.) conspired to torture detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

Some of the Iraqi detainees have successfully sued the firms, but the companies have appealed the ruling. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., is hearing the case. Contractors are arguing they are covered by the same level of immunity that protects U.S. soldiers from being sued by enemy combatants in wartime.

“Immediate implementation of this statute is necessary to preclude a contracting officer from inadvertently awarding a contract that allows for the interrogation of detainees by contractor personnel,” the interim rule stated.

Please see the original article here and leave your comments

Defense will accept comments on the rule through Jan. 3, 2011. They can be submitted by e-mail at dfars@osd.mil; through the Regulations.gov website; or by mail to:

Defense Acquisition Regulations System
Attn.: Julian E. Thrash, OUSD (AT&L) DPAP/DARS
3060 Defense Pentagon, Room 3B855
Washington, D.C. 20301-3060

November 5, 2010 Posted by | CIA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Pentagon | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Contractor Use in Iraq Expected To Rise

By William Mathews at Defense News

As the U.S. military pulls troops and equipment out of Iraq, the State Department will have to rely increasingly on contractors to perform such services as flying rescue helicopters and disarming roadside bombs, a congressional commission warned.

That is not an ideal solution but none other seems available, members of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan said during a July 12 hearing.

While the Defense Department works to reduce its dependence on contractors, the State Department will have to greatly increase its use of hired help.

“Boy, that really troubles me,” said Dov Zakheim, a commission member and former Pentagon budget chief. “You’re going to be getting contractors not only doing what they’re doing today, but doing things that are inherently governmental.”

In a scenario spelled out by commission Co-chairman Michael Thibault, if State Department employees working as trainers for the Iraqi police come under fire from Iraqi insurgents, the injured might well have to be rescued by contractors because U.S. military forces are pulling out of the country.

Thibault, who described being rescued by an Army helicopter during his own wartime service, said he would be leery about being rescued by a contract pilot, who he said is unlikely to be as well-trained as a U.S. military pilot.

But the State Department appears to have little choice. It lacks its own force of personnel to fly helicopters, disarm bombs or provide dozens of other services that U.S. military personnel now provide. And the military is scheduled to reduce its Iraq footprint to 50,000 troops in August and be out of that country by the end of next year.

In Iraq, the State Department has relied on the military to recover damaged vehicles and downed aircraft, manage contractors, protect convoys, provide emergency response forces, provide communications support, gather intelligence and more.

In a letter to the Pentagon this spring, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service complained that its capabilities are “inadequate to the extreme challenges in Iraq.”

In many countries, the State Department relies on its host nation to provide for emergency needs, security and other services. But Iraq is in no condition to do that.

Thibault said the State Department will have to more than double its force of 2,700 security personnel. And department officials have asked to keep military equipment, including helicopters and mine-resistant armored vehicles.

The State Department also asked to be allowed to continue using the Army’s LOGCAP contract and Defense Logistics Agency support to buy food, fuel and other necessities.

The commission criticized a lack of coordination between the two departments as the military moves toward handing the Iraq mission over to the State Department. In a report, the commission has criticized Congress for failing to provide money to pay for support the State Department will need as the military withdraws.

Much of the July 12 hearing, however, focused on whether the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) included enough discussion of the military’s increased reliance on contractors.

Thibault complained that the 2010 QDR says even less about using contractors than the 2006 document did. “The new QDR pays scant attention” to planning for contractor use in wartime, he said.

In 1973, when Richard Nixon was president and gasoline was 37 cents a gallon, the Total Force Policy, which created the all-volunteer military, “made a pretty clear statement” about the importance of contractors, Thibault said.

But today, “37 years later, they are still not fully recognized or incorporated in planning and training.”

Other commission members counted the times “contingency contracting” – the hiring of contractors for war-zone duties – was mentioned in the QDR.

“There are only three specific mentions,” said Charles Tiefer, a law professor. “We have two wars going on and more contractors than troops in those wars, yet the QDR has basically two mentions of things having to do with contractors.”

There are “just two mentions,” said commissioner Clark Kent Ervin.

Kathleen Hicks, deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and forces, offered her own word count. She insisted that the 2010 QDR contains 12 references to contractors compared with nine in the 2006 document.

Hicks said policies on planning for the use of contractors and reducing their numbers have been thoroughly spelled out in instructions from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.  Original Story here

July 12, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Iraq, LOGCAP, State Department, Wartime Contracting | , , , , | Leave a comment

Double-Hatting Around the Law: The Problem with Morphing Warrior, Spy and Civilian Roles

Defense, U.S. Military, U.S. Department of Defense

Peter W. Singer, Director, 21st Century Defense Initiative

Armed Forces Journal

June 01, 2010 —

Over the years, a dense code of laws has risen to divvy out the various authorities in our government. At the heart of these in national security are Title 10, which doles out the roles of manning, training and equipping the uniformed military, and Title 50, which defines various other roles, including the intelligence community. But what happens when we start to ignore those codes?
n the last few weeks, news stories have popped up that center on national security roles being “double-hatted” in some form or another. The Senate was recently asked to promote Army Gen. Keith Alexander to be commander of the new Cyber Command, which will coordinate and conduct America’s offense and defense in the emerging realm of cyberwar, as well as backstop domestic cybersecurity efforts at agencies such as the Homeland Security Department. Alexander, though, already had a job leading the National Security Agency, which conducts intelligence surveillance of that same space. This double-hatting is extending down into the service components that will support the new command such that we have a variety of serving military officers describing themselves as carrying out Title 10 and 50 roles, dependent on the exact task at that moment.By contrast, the House recently held a hearing titled “Rise of the Drones II.” Thankfully, the session wasn’t about giving George Lucas another try at ruining the “Star Wars” franchise, but on the campaign of unmanned airstrikes into Pakistan against al-Qaida, the Taliban and other militant leaders. More than 120 airstrikes have been carried out by Predator and Reaper aircraft. This massive air war is not being conducted by the Air Force, but instead is being run not-so-covertly by the CIA.

And then there is the continual spate of private contractors popping up in unexpected (and traditionally governmental) national security roles. At the CIA, for instance, officials were upset to learn about a Defense Department official who retasked a strategic communication contract (originally meant to understand local tribal politics in Afghanistan) into a network of clandestine contractors who were working as spies on both side of the Afghan-Pakistan border. By contrast, the military was unhappy to learn about the huge private contractor role in operating and supporting the CIA’s own fleet of unmanned combat aircraft (including firms that are part of the Blackwater-Xe network). This, though, is the pot calling the kettle black, since as much as 75 percent of the field support to the Air Force’s Predators is outsourced, while the Army has a unit of drones that is Orwellianly described as “government owned-contractor operated.”  Original Here

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, CIA, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan police training contracts likely to go to Blackwater and Lockheed


Former officials familiar with the deal say that Blackwater is likely to get a Defense Department-issued contract worth several hundred million dollars to train and mentor the Afghan police.

The police training contract, known as TORP 150, is supposed to be decided next month, and the company has not been officially notified that it will get it. But the only competing bid for the police training contract, submitted by Northrup with MPRI, has been disqualified, a former official knowledgeable about the contract said.

We have no knowledge that the contract will be awarded to us, Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Blackwater, now known as Xe, told POLITICO Thursday.

Lockheed, meantime, is likely to be awarded an associated logistics contract to support the Afghanistan police training effort (a contract known as TORP 166), for which Blackwater also bid, the former officials said.

While a Blackwater subsidiary’s activities in Afghanistan were the subject of a scathing hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, U.S. Central Command and top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal are said to be very happy with Blackwater’s work in Afghanistan, the former official familiar with the contracting deal told POLITICO. Blackwater has contracts to do intelligence support, counter-narcotics support with the Drug Enforcement Agency, and Afghan border security work, with which Centcom has been pleased, the former official said.

So Gen. McChrystal has pushed for the Defense Department to issue the Afghan police training contract, rather than the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement bureau (INL), the former official said. The DoD has five “primes” — companies eligible to bid on contracts in Afghanistan: Raytheon, Lockheed, Northrup, Arinc (owned by Carlyle), and Blackwater.

Of those five, only Blackwater bid for both Afghan police training contract components — the training/mentoring and the logistics. Its only competitor for the police training and mentoring contract, Northrup with MPRI, was disqualified, the former official said. Its only competitor for the logistics contract is Lockheed. The source said the Army had Lockheed re-write and re-submit its proposal to make it more suited to receive the logistics contract.

DynCorp International, a Falls Church, Va.-based defense contractor, has filed a protest that only the five DoD “primes” were made eligible to bid for the Afghanistan police training contract, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund’s Christine Spolar reported this week. (DynCorp itself is in the process of being made a “prime,” the sources said.)

Meantime, DynCorp got some good news on the Afghan contract front. Last week, it beat out MPRI to win a $232.4 million contract to train and mentor Afghan Ministry of Defense forces.

The contract was issued by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. Of note: that on DynCorp’s board is retired Gen. Peter Schoomaker, former U.S. Army chief of staff.  Also on the DynCorp board, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who recently wrote an Afghanistan assessment commissioned by Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus. Among McCaffrey’s findings, lavish praise for the military brilliance of Petraeus and McChrystal, and that there would be no meaningful civilian “surge” to Afghanistan.

The former official who spoke to POLITICO about the police training contracts, who is not associated with MPRI, said that MPRI is widely considered to have more experience doing military training and said that MPRI’s bid came in at 25 percent less the cost of DynCorp’s.

Congressional sources said they were not yet aware of the Afghan police training contract award. But yesterday, Sen. Carl Levin (D.-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, slammed the activities of a Blackwater “shell” company in Afghanistan — Paravant — for its “reckless use of weapons, its disregard for the rules governing the acquisition of weapons” and lack of vetting resulting “in those weapons being placed in the hands of people who never should have possessed them,” POLITICO’s Marin Cogan reported.

Posted by Laura Rozen 01:03 PM

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Blackwater, Private Military Contractors | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civilian Contractors Toll in Iraq and Afghanistan Ignored by Defense Dept.

Civilian Contractor Toll in Iraq and Afghanistan Ignored by Defense Dept.

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – October 9, 2009

afghanistan-2007-contractorbombed_gt20091009An Afghan policeman walks past a vehicle that had carried U.S. civilian contractors, after it was targeted by a suicide bomber in the Logar province. (Farzana Wahidy/AFP/Getty Images/January 2007 file photo)

s the war in Afghanistan entered its ninth year, the Labor Department recently released new figures [1] for the number of civilian contract workers who have died in war zones since 9/11. Although acknowledged as incomplete, the figures show that at least 1,688 civilians have died and more than 37,000 have reported injuries while working for U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than 5,200 soldiers have died in the two war zones, meaning that one civilian contractor has died for every three soldiers — a ratio that reflects the unprecedented degree to which the Pentagon has outsourced the work of war. Civilian contractors make up [2] about half the total U.S. forces in the war zones and they have been deployed on the front lines far more than any previous U.S. conflict [3]. Iraq and Afghanistan are the most outsourced wars in U.S. history.

Despite the importance of civilian contractors to its mission, the Defense Department hasn’t been measuring their sacrifice. A little-noticed report [4] from the Government Accountability Office last week noted that the Pentagon has yet to implement a Congressional requirement to track contractor fatalities.

Military officials brushed off inquiries from the GAO, telling the agency that they “continue to lack a system to reliably track killed or wounded contractor personnel.” To get a handle on the issue, the GAO examined a sample of files from the Labor Department, which oversees a workers compensation program required by a federal law known as the Defense Base Act. The act requires contract firms to purchase insurance to cover civilians injured or killed while working abroad on federal contracts.

While the system is not designed to track war injuries, investigators determined that about 11 percent of reported contractor casualties stem from combat — about the same percentage of soldier casualties attributed to hostile action, according to an April 2007 report [5] by the Veterans Affairs Department. For both groups, most injuries are due to vehicle collisions, muscle or back strains or common, everyday accidents.

The Department of Defense is not alone in ignoring its hired help. Neither the State Department nor USAID could tell with certainty how many contractors they employed, the GAO found. USAID, for instance, failed to report how many civilians it had put to work under a $91 million contract to develop hydroelectric plants and small and medium businesses in Afghanistan. A State Department contracting officer insisted that there was no need to track local Iraqi hires, despite specific statutory language to the contrary, the report found. “Officials acknowledged that they are likely undercounting the actual number of contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the GAO concluded. State, USAID and DOD officials all told the GAO that they were working to fix the problem.

What it all means is that nine years after the launch of the most contractor-intensive war in U.S. history, nobody is sure how many contractors there are, what they are doing, or how many have been killed or wounded.

October 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment