Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

KBR’s motion denied in electrocution death lawsuit

“From the Court’s view, KBR ‘protests too much,’ ” Judge Fischer wrote
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  Saturday, September 24, 2011

For the second time, U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer has denied a motion by Houston-based defense contractor Kellogg Brown & Root Services Inc. to have the civil case stemming from a sergeant’s death decided under Iraqi law.

“From the Court’s view, KBR ‘protests too much,’ ” Judge Fischer wrote in an order denying the firm’s motion for reconsideration of her June order that laws of the U.S. apply in the death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Douglas Maseth, 24. “Iraq’s negligible interests in this case are far outweighed by those of the United States and the controlling law of the United States will be applied.”

Mr. Maseth’s parents, who live in the North Hills, sued KBR over his death by electrocution on Jan. 2, 2008, while showering on the U.S. base at Radwaniyah Palace complex in Baghdad. They blame a short circuit in an electrical water pump, and say KBR was responsible for fixing electrical problems at the complex.

Neither KBR’s attorneys, nor those representing the parents, could be reached for comment. Had KBR prevailed, Judge Fischer would have tried the case locally, but under Iraqi law that does not allow for punitive damages.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com 412-263-1542

September 24, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq law won’t apply to Maseth wrongful death suit

By Brian Bowling  PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW    Friday, June 17, 2011

A defense contractor wasn`t in Iraq at the request of the government or because of its business climate, so Iraq has no interest in applying its civil tort laws to a wrongful death lawsuit brought against the company by the parents of a dead soldier, a federal judge ruled today.

The parents of Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, a native of Shaler, are suing KBR Inc. for the Jan. 2, 2008, death of their son while he showered on a military base in Iraq maintained by the company. Cheryl Harris and Douglas Maseth claim shoddy electrical work by the contractor caused their son’s electrocution.

KBR had the maintenance contract for the base but claims it was not responsible for repairs and did not work on the pump.

The Houston-based defense contractor asked U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to apply Iraqi law to the lawsuit because Iraq`s laws would make it hard for Maseth`s parents to prove KBR was responsible for his death, limit the compensatory damages they could receive and prevent them from getting punitive damages.

In a 39-page opinion, Fischer noted that a report by KBR`s expert on Iraqi law failed to mention Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17, which made KBR and other defense contractors exempt from Iraqi law and, instead, makes them liable under the laws of the “sending state.”

Whether that state is Pennsylvania, the home of Maseth`s parents, or Tennessee, where Maseth was living before deployment, is still up for debate, but it`s clear that Iraq could care less if the family recovers damages from KBR, the judge says in her ruling.

The country may have benefited from KBR`s actions, she noted. “But, KBR certainly was not invited nor encouraged by Iraq‘s government to engage in business there. Instead, KBR‘s presence in Iraq was solely attributable to the United States` continued presence in that country after the initial invasion.”

Please see the original here

June 17, 2011 Posted by | Follow the Money, Iraq, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , , | Leave a comment

3rd anniversary of the electrocution death of SSG Ryan Maseth

Please see the tribute to Cheryl Harris and Ryan Maseth at MsSparky’s


January 2, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, KBR, Pentagon, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

KBR Loses $24.1 Million Bonus Over Green Beret, Ryan Maseth’s Death in Iraq

By Tony Capaccio

June 9 (Bloomberg) — KBR Inc., the largest contractor in Iraq, lost all of its potential bonus — $24.1 million — for the first four months of 2008 because it was found partly to blame for the accidental electrocution of a Green Beret.

This is the first time KBR lost its entire performance fee since the company won the contract in 2001 to support U.S. troops, Army Contracting Command spokesman Daniel Carlson said.

Houston-based KBR has received orders from this contract totaling $35.7 billion to date. Its profit comes from a base fee of 1 percent and periodic bonuses based on criteria such as quality of work and its control over cost and schedule.

Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth of the 5th Special Forces Group was electrocuted while showering on Jan. 2, 2008, in part because the shower’s electrical pump wasn’t properly grounded when installed less than two years before, the Pentagon inspector general reported on July 27, 2009.

The report criticized the Army’s oversight of Maseth’s compound, saying his death “was the catastrophic result of the failure of multiple systems exposing U.S. personnel to unnecessary risk.”

Army commanders, the Army contracting command and KBR were all “responsible for the use and physical condition” of the compound, the report said.

“KBR did not ground equipment during installation or report improperly grounded equipment identified during routine maintenance” at the facility starting in February 2006, thereby “perpetuating electrical hazards,” the report found.  Read the full story here

KBR loses $84.7M in Award Fees for LOGCAP III in Iraq

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, KBR, Pentagon, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defense Contract Management Agency Acquisition Workforce for Southwest Asia

DCMA and Contractor Oversight

By David Isenberg at Huff Post

Let us start out by acknowledging that most federal government auditors and contracting officers charged with doing oversight on private contractors have a difficult job. As has been documented for years they are overburdened and until recently, under resourced. I am sure most of them try to do an enormously difficult job as professionally and competently as they can.

That said, they can only be as good as the agency they work for. When we think of private contractors working for the U.S. military that means places like the Defense Contract Auditing Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) . DCMA is the DOD Component that works directly with Defense suppliers to help ensure that DOD, Federal, and allied Government supplies and services are delivered on time, at projected cost, and meet all performance requirements.

With regard to the latter let’s look at a recent report by the Department of Defense Inspector General. Titled “Defense Contract Management Agency Acquisition Workforce for Southwest Asia” its objective was to determine DCMA requirements to support Southwest Asia (SWA) contracting operations and the number of available DCMA civilian, military, foreign national, and support contractors supporting the operations. Specifically, it determined whether DCMA identified its requirements to support SWA contracting operations. It also evaluated whether a sample of the DCMA acquisition workforce for SWA was adequately trained and certified.

Southwest Asia means Afghanistan so one can see this is not a just a subject of academic concern.

Unfortunately for U.S. troops there the report makes DCMA look a bit like the Keystone Cops. The report found that as of December 31, 2008, DCMA provided contract oversight and contract administration for contract actions valued at $1.3 trillion.

But DCMA could not determine its resource requirements for contractor oversight and
contract administration in SWA because:

DCMA is reactive rather than proactive in assuming its role to provide contractor oversight and contract administration.
DCMA did not define its acquisition workforce requirements to support contracting operations in SWA,

AT&L [Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics] does not require Defense agencies to document acquisition workforce requirements, and

DCMA must be delegated contractor oversight and contract administration responsibility for work in SWA.

On the not so outlandish assumption that one can’t do good oversight if you don’t have good auditors the report dismayingly reports that:

DCMA Southwest Asia personnel did not have the proper training and certification for contingency contracting positions in SWA. Specifically, of the 221 DCMA personnel training records reviewed from a universe of 1,170 from FY 2004 through FY 2009: 103 DCMA personnel were not fully qualified for the position occupied, and

57 quality assurance representatives did not have or could not produce proof of Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act certification.

In addition, of the 75 position descriptions DCMA provided, 30 position descriptions were either incorrect or did not have a requirement for certification.

Although the Pentagon has said numerous times in the past several years that it is increasing the size of its acquisition workforce the IG report noted that

DCMA reported that its civilian staffing decreased from 19,403 full-time equivalents as of October 1, 1992, to 9,423 as of December 31, 2008 (a 51 percent decrease). DCMA military staffing decreased from 570 on January 1, 2003, to 542 as of December 31, 2008. From October 1, 1999 through December 31, 2008, the number of DCMA-administered contracts increased from 309,000 to 321,000, while the obligated value of those contracts increased from $866 billion to $1.3 trillion (50 percent increase). Conversely, during the same period the number of contractors administered by DCMA decreased from 18,600 to 18,500.

With those numbers it is small wonders problems keep cropping up.

Considering what I wrote in my last post , regarding contractors overseeing contractors, it is worth noting that the report says “DCMA does not (nor is required to) report the number of contractor and foreign national personnel in the acquisition workforce. However, the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract requires contractor personnel to perform contract administration functions. As a result, an unknown number of contractor and foreign national personnel may be supplementing the contract administration workforce.”

For those who wonder why that is a problem, consider this excerpt from the IG report::

The Army awarded the LOGCAP III contract to Kellogg, Brown, and Root in 2001 and delegated the responsibility of managing the LOGCAP III contract to DCMA in August 2006. Although DCMA was delegated contract administration authority for the LOGCAP III contract, DCMA relied on the prime contractor to perform quality assurance, inspections, and repair in those facilities. DOD Inspector General (IG) Report No. IE-2009-006, “Review of Electrocution Deaths in Iraq: Part I – Electrocution of Staff Sergeant Ryan D. Maseth, U.S. Army,” July 24, 2009, found that the prime contractor did not advise DCMA of electrical deficiencies in facilities that soldiers and contractors occupied. As a result, one service member died in those facilities due to faulty electrical wiring and improperly grounded electrical equipment. The report stated that the Government in good faith relied upon the contractor to provide qualified people to do the work as part of the “workmanlike” standard and quality provisions provided for under the terms of the contract. In addition, the report stated that LOGCAP III Support Unit contracting officer acceptance of prime contractor assumptions during contract negotiations resulted in a false perception that buildings and peripheral equipment were in acceptable condition during the transfer of Radwaniyah Palace Complex facility operations and maintenance to LOGCAP III.

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

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reid asks for investigation into electrocution death

By KIMBERLY HEFLING (AP) – 40 minutes ago

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday asked the State Department and Pentagon to investigate the electrocution of a 25-year-old private security contractor while showering in his dormitory in Baghdad.

Reid said he wants to know whether Adam Hermanson’s death resulted from faulty electrical work. Hermanson, who died Sept. 1, grew up in San Diego and Las Vegas. Reid is a Nevada senator.

Electrical wiring has been an ongoing problem in Iraq that the military has been trying to fix with widespread inspections and repairs. At least three troops have been electrocuted while showering since the start of the Iraq war, and others have been electrocuted elsewhere.

Reid made the request Monday in letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Hermanson served three tours in Iraq with the Air Force. He’d recently left the military and was an employee of the Herndon, Va.-based private contractor Triple Canopy at the time of his death.

A request for comment was referred to the military in Baghdad, where the request was not immediately returned. Darby Holladay, a State Department spokesman, said Reid’s letter had not yet been received.

September 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment