Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Large Contracts Awarded past quarter

From GovConExec News  September 6, 2011

The Veterans Affairs Department awarded spots on a $12 billion contract to modernize IT operations to 14 firms, including Booz Allen, CACI, HP and Harris.
DynCorp International, PAE Group, SAIC and Tetra Tech, among others, were added to a five-year, $10 billion IDIQ contract from State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs to provide worldwide civilian police and criminal justice assistance.
The U.S. Army selected Northrop Grumman Technical Services, Inc., L-3 Communication Services, Inc., Mission Essential Personnel, CACI Premier Technology Inc., and DynCorp International and AECOM’s joint venture Global Linguist Solutions to compete for task orders on its $9.7 billion defense language interpretation translation enterprise contract.
The U.S. Army awarded 16 contractors a place on a $997 million contract for force protection measures. Awardees include DRS, ITT, SAIC, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, BAE, Ideal Innovations, among others.

Please read more at GovConExec News

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contract Awards, Contracts Awarded, Government Contractor | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Families of soldiers killed by interpreter in Afghanistan accuse US contractor of negligence

WASHINGTON -Associated Press at Canadian Press  July 12, 2011

In the rush to send more interpreters to work alongside American troops in Afghanistan, a U.S. defence contractor called Mission Essential Personnel hired Nasir Ahmad Ahmadi, a slightly built and emotionally troubled 23-year-old. Just a few months after Ahmadi arrived at an Army Special Forces base near Kabul, he was ordered to pack his bags and leave. The soldiers were alarmed by his strange behaviour, his inability to do the job and the foul condition of his living quarters. They suspected he used drugs.

Instead of getting ready for the next flight out, Ahmadi grabbed an AK-47 assault rifle from another interpreter’s room on the base and started shooting. He killed Specialist Marc Decoteau, a 19-year-old just a few weeks into his first tour of duty, and Capt. David Johnpaul Thompson, 39, a veteran soldier and the father of two young girls. At close range, Ahmadi shot Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Russell, 37, hitting him in the legs. Russell survived. All three soldiers were unarmed.

An alert Army sergeant ended the rampage at Firebase Nunez when he drew his pistol and killed Ahmadi, a native of Afghanistan who had immigrated to the United States in 2009.

On Monday, nearly 18 months after the shootings in January 2010, Russell and the families of Decoteau and Thompson filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in North Carolina that accuses Mission Essential Personnel of negligence and breach of contract.

It said the company failed to look into Ahmadi’s background and did not properly test him to ensure he was psychologically sound before giving him a job.

Please read the entire article here

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Interpreters, Mission Essential Personnel, Private Military Contractors, Safety and Security Issues, Vetting Employees | , , , , | Leave a comment

Families sue military contractor Mission Essential Personnel over soldier deaths in Afghanistan

Fay Observer    July 12, 2011

The families of two Fort Bragg soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan last year by a disgruntled interpreter have filed a lawsuit against the military contractor for whom the man worked.

Capt. David J. Thompson and Spc. Marc P. Decoteau were killed Jan. 29, 2010, after Nasir Ahmad Ahmadi opened fire inside Camp Nunez with an AK-47 assault rifle. The camp was in Wardak province.

A third soldier, Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Russell, was injured in the attack.

Ahmadi had worked as an interpreter at the base for Special Forces soldiers.

According to the complaint, Ahmadi opened fire on soldiers in the base after being told he would be reassigned to another base.

Russell and the estates of Decoteau and Thompson filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court against Mission Essential Personnel LLC. The complaint alleges that Mission Essential Personnel “failed to properly vet, prepare, place and manage (Ahmadi).”

In response to the lawsuit, Mission Essential Personnel released a statement calling the incident that led to Thompson’s and Decoteau’s deaths “shocking and tragic” and offered the families their deepest condolences.

Please read the entire article here

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, Interpreters, Legal Jurisdictions, Mission Essential Personnel, Private Military Contractors | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judge allows fraud case against translator company

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge wants a closer examination of allegations a defense contractor knowingly hired interpreters who failed language proficiency exams and sent them to work alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema on Friday rejected a bid by the contractor, Mission Essential Personnel of Columbus, Ohio, to have the case thrown out. Attorneys for the company argued the suit filed by Paul Funk, a former Mission Essential Personnel employee, is based on speculation and assertions.

But Brinkema said she is allowing the case to move forward because the service being provided to the government — qualified translators working in a war zone — is so important to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.  Please read the original article here

November 5, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Mission Essential Personnel, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Whistleblower Claims Many U.S. Interpreters Can’t Speak Afghan Languages

Says Translators Failed Language Tests, Were Still Embedded With US Troops In Afghanistan

By MATTHEW MOSK, BRIAN ROSS and JOSEPH RHEE at ABC News

More than one quarter of the translators working alongside American soldiers in Afghanistan failed language proficiency exams but were sent onto the battlefield anyway, according to a former employee of the company that holds contracts worth up to $1.4 billion to supply interpreters to the U.S. Army.

“I determined that someone — and I didn’t know [who] at that time — was changing the grades from blanks or zeros to passing grades,” said Paul Funk, who used to oversee the screening of Afghan linguists for the Columbus, Ohio-based contractor, Mission Essential Personnel. “Many who failed were marked as being passed.”

After being asked about the allegations, U.S. Army officials confirmed to ABC News they are investigating the company.

Funk outlined his claims in a whistleblower lawsuit unsealed earlier this year against Mission Essential Personnel, saying the company turned a blind eye to cheating on language exams taken over the phone and hired applicants even though they failed to meet the language standards set by the Army and spelled out in the company’s contract. He alleges that 28 percent of the linguists hired between November 2007 and June 2008 failed to meet the government’s language requirements. The company has contested those claims in court, and this week rejected them as false in an interview with ABC News.

Civilian translators have for nearly a decade been playing a crucial if unsung role in the Afghanistan war, embedding with troops as they have moved through the countryside, helping soldiers gather information from local villagers, and attempting to spread the message of security, moderation and peace that undergirds the U.S. presence there. Some Afghan veterans have rated the value of a skilled interpreter as equal to that of a working weapon or sturdy body armor.

But a former top screener of translators heading to Afghanistan tells ABC News in an exclusive interview that will air tonight on World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline that he believes many of the translators currently in the field cannot perform their function.

Please read the entire story here

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Mission Essential Personnel, Pentagon, Safety and Security Issues, Whistleblower | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auditing Mission Essential Personnel

CorpWatch Pratap Chatterjee

In September 2007 the U.S. Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) awarded Mission Essential Personnel (MEP) a five-year-contract worth up to $414 million to provide 1,691 translators in Afghanistan. MEP was a start-up company created by three men, including Chad Monnin, a U.S. Army Special Forces reservist who was injured in a parachute accident. (Procurement rules give preference to companies owned by injured veterans, even if they have no prior experience.)

When the Obama administration decided to expand the war in Afghanistan last year, MEP quickly hit the ceiling of what it could bill. On May 10, INSCOM gave MEP a $679 million extension without bothering to put it up for competitive bid. MEP will also get a share of the Intelligence Support Services Omnibus III contract, a five-year contract, with a ceiling of $492 million, announced on August 10, 2010.

The only two other contractors that have held multi-billion dollar contracts to supply translators to soldiers and diplomats in the Global War on Terror — L-3/Titan and Global Linguist Services — have both been investigated for alleged overcharging, suggesting that this type of work falls in the high risk category of government spending.

Yet DCAA failed to conduct a full business systems audit for MEP. Concerned about DCAA’s failure, Christopher Shays, one of the co-chairs of the Commission on Wartime Contracting told MEP CEO Chris Taylor: “You don’t have to compete for it, and you, whatever your costs are, you get something plus, and you haven’t had any audits.” Shays assured MEP that he was not suggesting that the company had done anything wrong, re-iterating that the commission considered MEP a “a great American success story.”

“We currently have DCAA auditors on our property in Columbus, Ohio, working through any number of audit issues. But we welcome it,” Taylor told the commission. “We are current on our 2008 and 2009 incurred-cost submissions,” he added, referring to the invoices that the company sends INSCOM for payment.

DCAA Director Patrick Fitzgerald told the hearing that the problem was that the contract grew quicker than expected. “Are we behind the curve? Yes. We should have been in there quicker,” he told commissioners. “Our experience has shown that when contractors grow that fast, the procedures, processes, and systems have trouble keeping up with that growth, increases the risk to the U.S. government.”

When asked to respond the charges leveled at DCAA at the hearing, a Pentagon spokesperson emailed the following statement to CorpWatch: “We agreed with the commission that additional resources were required at MEP and have worked to ensure that additional DCAA assets are directed to MEP.” The spokesperson estimated that it will complete “much of the critical audit work needed to assess MEP’s business systems within the next six months.”

See Also

Inside the No Bid Contract for Iraqi Interpreters

Meet the men who help US and NATO troops communicate their aims in Afghanistan — and in doing so risk their lives.

Lost in Limbo: Injured Afghan Translators Struggle to Survive

August 30, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Iraq, Mission Essential Personnel, Private Military Contractors | , , | 2 Comments

Inside the No Bid Deal for Iraqi Interpreters

MEP says they are working with their insurance company to make sure all wounded employees are treated quickly, and properly

This we’d like to hear more about…………

Unlimited Talk, Only $679 Million

By Noah Shactman   Danger Room   Wired

Three years ago, Mission Essential Personnel, LLC was a miniscule military contractor, banking less than $6 million annually to find a handful of linguists for the American government. Earlier this week, the U.S. Army handed the Columbus, Ohio company a one-year, no-bid $679 million extension of its current contract to field a small city’s worth of translators to help out American forces in Afghanistan. Not bad for a company that’s been accused of everything from abandoning wounded employees to sending out-of-shape interpreters to the front lines. MEP vigorously rejects the charges.

The U.S. -led counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan relies on gaining the trust of the local population. But those relationships can’t be established without people who can speak Afghanistan’s array of languages. So the American military turns to Mission Essential Personnel (MEP) to recruit, screen, and bring more than 5,000 of those interpreters to the battlefield. Today, no other company comes close to supplying as many translators in Afghanistan. And with this new “indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity with cost-plus-award fee contract,” MEP is guaranteed another year as the dominant player in the translation market there.

To MEP spokesman Sean Rushton, the $679 million contract extension is a validation of “our very positive performance” — and a stop-gap measure to ensure that U.S. forces can keep talking with the locals while a more competitive contract is prepared to be put up for bid. Tens of thousands of fresh troops are streaming into Afghanistan for a new offensive there; they need people who can speak the language. “Obviously, this coincides with the surge,” Rushton tells Danger Room.

A small handful of MEP’s translators are American citizens of Afghan descent. If they have the right language skills, and can pass a security clearance, they can make up to $235,000 per year, plus health benefits and a 401-K, “analyz[ing] communications” and “perform[ing] document exploitation” on one of Afghanistan’s big, comfortable military bases. But the vast majority of MEP’s recruits are local Afghans, earning about $900 a month to accompany frontline troops into action. These interpreters are given a week’s worth of training before they’re shipped out to combat. Once there, they’re required to spend a year working 12-hour days, seven days a week, and be on-call during the remaining time.

It can be a grueling schedule. The work is dangerous — “some 24 MEP linguists have been killed and 56 injured” in less than two years, CorpWatch’s Pratap Chatterjee reported. Not all of MEP’s hires are up for it.

“In just the bare minimal outlines of how they could run their contract effectively, they are a resounding failure, and have a knack for hiring septuagenarians for combat units while misassigning their language skills,” Registan.net’s Josh Foust complained last summer.

I’ve met guys off the planes and have immediately sent them back because they weren’t in the proper physical shape,” linguist supervisor Gunnery Sgt. James Spangler told the AP around this same time. “They were too old. They couldn’t breathe. They complained about heart problems,” he said.

But the Army, not MEP, assigns where interpreters go. And the military’s contract doesn’t specify how many pull-ups an MEP translator has to do. Besides, senior citizens can be invaluable in a senior commander’s headquarters, Rushton responds. “All of our linguists meet and exceed the requirements that we were given,” he says.

MEP instantly became Afghanistan’s biggest linguist shop in 2007, after the defense contractor Titan only managed to muster about half of the translators it promised to the military. The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command put the translation contract up for competitive bid, and awarded the job to MEP, a start-up founded by special forces veterans. Today, the company, lead by former marine and Blackwater vice president Chris Taylor, says it fills 97 percent of the translators’ billets, up from Titan’s 41 percent fulfillment rate.

While MEP hasn’t faced the kind of scrutiny paid to contractors like Blackwater, the firm has come under fire for the treatment of its linguists. Chatterjee reported last year that MEP rehired many of Titan’s old interpreters — and then promptly cut their salaries by as much as 50%. Some were canned, for seemingly flimsy reasons. One linguist, wounded in action, felt he was fired, essentially, for getting hurt.

MEP insists the accusations are way off-base. ”We’re very committed to making our company a different kind of company. To giving these guys better treatment,” Rushton says. “We bend over backwards to provide benefits and medical care.” But, according to Chatterjee, MEP’s record of caring for injured translators is far from perfect. When interpreter Abdul Hameed was wounded by an improvised bomb last August, MEP made sure he received disability pay. But it was only “$110.01 a week — barely enough to pay for his medical expenses.” MEP says they are working with their insurance company to make sure all wounded employees are treated quickly, and properly. Meanwhile, the company is gearing up for the Army’s next translation contract. A formal request for proposals is expected to be released by the end of the summer.

May 12, 2010 Posted by | AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contract Awards, Contractor Corruption, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment