Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Subcontracting Substandard Services: Military Contracts in Iraq Still Controversial

by David Isenberg  at CorpWatch   June 27th, 2011

Najlaa International Catering Services won a $3 million five-year contract in February 2010 to prepare food for the U.S. Agency for International Development compound in Iraq. The deal was approved despite the fact that Bill Baisey, CEO of the Kuwaiti company, faces numerous complaints and court actions for non-payment of bills and alleged fraud in Kuwait and Iraq.

U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been plagued by private military contractors that have performed poorly or failed miserably in fulfilling their contracts. Some overstated their capabilities or were badly managed and under-skilled, while others committed outright fraud.

Past investigations concentrated on major contractors such as Halliburton and Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), but recently the smaller companies – such as Najlaa – to which these giants subcontract have drawn fire.

“The government has limited visibility into subcontractor affairs and limited ability to influence their actions,” said former U.S. Congressman Christopher Shays at a July 2010 hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting. “This fact presents a challenge to transparency and accountability for the use of taxpayers’ dollars. Poorly conceived, poorly structured, poorly conducted, and poorly monitored subcontracting can lead to poor choices in security measures and damage to U.S. foreign policy objectives, among other problems.”

The United States, however, has become so dependent on contractors who do the laundry, feed the troops, and build and run facilities that it would be difficult if not impossible for the military to continue without them.

Please read the entire story here

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, KBR, Kuwait, State Department, USAID | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Documents Reveal Details of Alleged Labor Trafficking by KBR Subcontractor

The Najlaa Episode Revisited

By DAVID ISENBERG and NICK SCHWELLENBACH at POGO

In December 2008, South Asian workers, two thousand miles or more from their homes, staged a protest on the outskirts of Baghdad. The reason: Up to 1,000 of them had been confined in a windowless warehouse and other dismal living quarters without money or work for as long as three months.

In a typical comment made by the laborers to news organizations at the time, Davidson Peters, a 42-year-old Sri Lankan man, told a McClatchy Newspapers reporter that “They promised us the moon and stars…While we are here, wives have left their husbands and children have been shut out of their schools” because money for their families back home had dried up.

The men came to Iraq lured by the promise of employment by Najlaa International Catering Services, a subcontractor performing work for Houston-based KBR, Inc. under the Army’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III contract.

Now, a cache of internal corporate and government documents obtained by POGO offer insight into this episode of alleged war zone human trafficking by companies working for the U.S.—and suggest that hardly anyone has been held accountable for what may be violations of U.S. law.

The subcontractor, Najlaa, appears to have suffered no repercussions for its role in luring hundreds of South Asian workers to Iraq with promises of lucrative jobs only to turn around and warehouse at least 1,000 of them in dismal living conditions without work—and pay—for several months. In fact, Najlaa continues to win government contracts.

Despite strongly worded “zero tolerance” policies against human trafficking, the U.S. has directly awarded contracts to Najlaa after the December 2008 protests, including one contract that lasts through 2012.

The Najlaa Incident: An Accountability Case Study

The freshly unearthed documents show that for several months, KBR employees expressed exasperation at Najlaa’s apparent abuse of the laborers and said the subcontractor was embarrassing KBR in front of its main client in Iraq: the U.S. military. But despite its own employees’ strongly worded communications to Najlaa, to this day, KBR continues to award subcontracts to the company.

The documents also suggest that Najlaa rehired former KBR employees who were terminated for what appear to be trafficking-in-persons violations. It is not clear what, if any, repercussions these employees faced besides their termination.

Additionally, the documents raise questions about government officials’ response in the wake of the 2008 protests by Najlaa employees. Although, at the time, the press reported that the U.S. government was investigating alleged trafficking by Najlaa, it has not led to any prosecution or termination of the subcontract. A Sri Lankan company that supplied laborers to Najlaa told POGO it complained about Najlaa’s abusive practices to both KBR and the U.S. government, but said that U.S. law enforcement agencies never followed up.

Please read this entire report here

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , , , | Leave a comment