Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

The Ronco Riff

October 25, 2012

Voluntary Today, Involuntary Tomorrow

Another Successful Flush by Wackenhut G4S

Will the last Ronco Consulting Corporation Employee out please close the lid ?

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Demining, ERW, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Follow the Money, Friendly Fire, G4S, Government Contractor, Iraq, Landmines, Lawsuits, Mine Clearance, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department, Sudan, Taxes, United Nations, United Nations Board of Inquiry, Vetting Employees, Wackenhut | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will ArmorGroup, AGNA, G4S, finally be held accountable for the deaths of Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare??

The programme-makers heard stories of contractors being forced to work on dangerous missions with inadequate equipment, incident reports sanitised to protect company reputations and numerous deaths of former soldiers.

One security contractor, Bob Shepherd, said: “We know when a soldier dies it’s all over the newspapers, it’s on the TV. But we never know when security contractors die.

“For the companies it’s bad for business, for the government it’s hiding the true cost of these conflicts.

“If the British taxpayers knew the total numbers of people that have died on behalf of British security companies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan they would be shocked.”

BBC News Oct 1, 2012

Security firm G4S was sent warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq just days before he murdered two colleagues, a BBC investigation has found.

Private security guard Paul McGuigan, from the Scottish Borders, was shot dead by Danny Fitzsimons in 2009 in Baghdad while on a protection contract.

Another man, Australian Darren Hoare, was also killed.

All were working for UK contractor G4S, which was operating under the name ArmorGroup in the region.

Violent criminal

In a BBC documentary, it is revealed that a G4S worker sent a series of emails to the company in London, warning them about Fitzsimons’s previous convictions and unstable behaviour.

The anonymous whistleblower signed one email “a concerned member of the public and father”.

The worker warned G4S: “I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public.

“I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.”

Another email, sent as Fitzsimons was due to start work in Baghdad, said: “Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust.

“I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”

Within 36 hours of arriving in Iraq in August 2009, Fitzsimons – a former paratrooper – had shot and killed the two men after what he claimed was a drunken brawl.

Paul McGuigan Paul McGuigan was killed by Fitzsimons

An Iraqi colleague was also wounded as Fitzsimons tried to flee the scene.

Fitzsimons had worked as a private security contractor before in Iraq, but he had been sacked for punching a client.

At the time he was taken on by G4S, Fitzsimons also had a criminal record, was facing outstanding charges of assault and a firearms offence, and had been diagnosed by doctors as having PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

In the documentary, the parents of Paul McGuigan call for the company to face criminal charges over the killing.

His mother Corinne Boyd-Russell, from Innerleithen in the Borders, said: “[Fitzsimons] fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup. They put the gun in that man’s hand.

“I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.”

Corinne Boyd-Russell Corinne Boyd-Russell wants G4S charged with corporate manslaughter

The parents of Danny Fitzsimons, who is serving 20 years in a Baghdad prison after being sentenced for the murders in February 2011, were also shocked to hear about the existence of the emails.

Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “And they still took him out there? They [G4S] need to be taken to task for that.

“The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”

A G4S spokesman admitted that its screening of Danny Fitzsimons “was not completed in line with the company’s procedures”.

It said vetting had been tightened since the incident.

Regarding the email warnings, the spokesman G4S told the BBC it was aware of the allegations but that an internal investigation showed “no such emails were received by any member of our HR department”.

He did not say whether anyone else in the company had seen them.

An inquest into the death of Paul McGuigan, a former Royal Marine, is due to begin in December.

The revelations in the Fitzsimons case come just weeks after G4S found itself at the centre of a crisis over its inability to meet its commitment to recruit security staff for the Olympics in London.

It is the biggest security company in the world in an industry that is worth about £400bn globally

WARNINGS ABOUT KILLER OF SCOT WENT UNHEEDED  October 1, 2012

Danny Fitzsimons was sentenced to at least 20 years in an Iraqi prison last year

CONTROVERSIAL security firm G4S ignored warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq who went on to murder two of his colleagues, it has been claimed.

Danny Fitzsimons was sentenced to at least 20 years in an Iraqi prison last year for killing Scot Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in Baghdad in 2009.The parents of Paul McGuigan, 37, have now called for G4S ArmorGroup to face criminal charges for failing to heed the warnings and sending Fitzsimons to Iraq.Now a new BBC Scotland documentary has revealed that G4S was warned not to employ Fitzsimons, who was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and had been fired by a previous security contractor for punching a client.

It emerged that a whistleblower sent two e-mails to the London-based company, which operates as Armorgroup in Iraq, expressing concerns that Fitzsimons’ unstable behaviour made him unsuitable to be handling weapons in a war zone.

The first e-mail, revealed in tonight’s BBC Scotland Investigates: Britain’s Private War programme, reads: “I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public. I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.”And in a second e-mail, sent as 32-year-old Fitzsimons was about to start work in Baghdad, the whistleblower adds:“Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust.

“I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”Paul McGuigan’s mother, Corinne Boyd-Russell, from Innerleithen, in Peebleshire, said: “Fitzsimons fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup.“I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.”

The parents of Fitzsimons were also shocked to hear about the existence of the e-mails.

Mother Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”

The news comes just months after the UK Government was forced to call in 1,200 troops to police the Olympic Games venues after G4S failed to provide enough staff.

The firm recently won a £20million contract to manage the electronic tagging of Scottish offenders.

A spokesman for G4S said: “Although there was evidence that Mr Fitzsimons falsified and apparently withheld material information during the recruitment process, his screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.

“Our screening processes should have been better implemented in this situation, but it is a matter of speculation what, if any, role this may have played in the incident.”

September 30, 2012 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, Follow the Money, G4S, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Private Security Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Safety and Security Issues, Security Clearances, State Department, Vetting Employees, Wackenhut | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will No One Rid Me of This Turbulent Company?

by David Isenberg at Huffington Post

also see at Davids Blog

Now that the London Olympics are receding into memory and the world has moved on to other pressing sports issues, like substitute NFL referees, the time is right to look back and ask one very important question; namely, just how badly did G4S screw up?

You remember G4S, don’t you? That is the British private security company that was unable to provide enough guards for the Summer Games and failed to disclose its problems in the buildup to the event. Its performance was so bad that the British got mad at Mitt Romney back in July when he, in one of his rare absolutely honest statements, indirectly mentioned its obvious lack of readiness.

As it turns out, the most charitable thing one can say is that G4 did badly, very badly. Others, such as British Members of Parliament would be much harsher. As evidence, consider the newly released report put out by the British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee. In the conclusion the report states:

Reports commissioned by LOCOG [London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games] in the months preceding the Games indicated clearly that there were problems with G4S’s recruitment, training and communications. They also found that the management information presented to LOCOG by G4S were fundamentally unreliable. G4S, meanwhile, continued to insist that it was in a position to deliver its contract. Although Mr Buckles [G4 CEO] claims to have acted on all the relevant recommendations, the final outcome suggests that the changes to the data G4S were reporting to LOCOG were more presentational than substantial. The data were at best unreliable, if not downright misleading, and the most senior personnel in the company must take full responsibility for this.

To paraphrase what King Henry the Young said of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, will no one rid me of this turbulent company?

This, by the way, was not some unfortunate confluence of events that nobody could anticipate; a perfect storm, as it were. There were many warning signs. For example:

It seems that the penny finally dropped with G4S management on 3 July, when Mr Taylor-Smith [Chief Operating Officer of G4] telephoned Mr Buckles to inform him there would be a shortfall of staff. Mr Buckles was on holiday at the time, which suggests that this was something more than a routine call. But Mr Buckles did not mention the scale of the problem to the Home Secretary when he spoke to her on 6 July, the same day on which Mr Horseman-Sewell was boasting recklessly in the press that G4S would have been more than capable of simultaneously delivering multiple Olympic security projects around the world. Neither did Mr Buckles disclose the scale of the problem when he met the Home Secretary on 10 July. It is clear that by this stage the Home Office had realised that something might be seriously amiss, as Charles Farr [Director-General of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office and Chair of the Olympic Security Board] had already begun to put contingency plans into place. But it is astonishing that G4S took a further week to tell its partners how bad things were.

G4S’s debacle was far more than a black eye just for G4S. It set back the entire security industry in the United Kingdom.

Please read the entire post here

September 28, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, G4S, Private Security Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Wackenhut | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Goldman Sachs downgrades G4S

StockMarketWire.com  September 27, 2012

Goldman Sachs downgrades G4S from sell to conviction sell, target price cut from 264p to 231p

September 27, 2012 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, G4S, Government Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Wackenhut | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

War Profiteer of the Month-G4S

30 Aug 2012 — javier at War Resistors International

G4S plc (formerly Group 4 Securicor) is a British multinational security services company headquartered in Crawley, United Kingdom. It is the world’s largest security company measured by revenues and has operations in around 125 countries. G4S was founded in 2004 by the merger of the UK-based Securicor plc with the Denmark-based Group 4 Falck.

In 2004 G4S bought private military and security company (PMSC) ArmorGroup and in doing so joined the shadowy world of privatised war. PMSCs have been accused of profiting from war, conflict, and political instability at the expense of security and human rights.

The British government has already played a large role in the growth of this industry by endorsing its widespread use in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the three years 2007-2009 the industry earned £62.8 million in contracts from the UK government. Almost all of the Foreign Office’s contracts have gone to ArmorGroup, now part of G4S. In June this year, defence secretary Philip Hammond, announced 30,000 Army jobs would go amid spending cuts, citing the need to use “more systematically the skills available in the reserve and from our contractors”.

Please read the history of G4S and more here

August 31, 2012 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, G4S, Ronco, Wackenhut | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ronco Consulting, Wackenhut, G4S named in Contractor Lawsuit for EEOC violations

Ronco Consulting was named in the Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit against Defense Base Act Insurance Companies and some Overseas Civilian Contractor Companies.

The EEOC granted a former Ronco Consulting Employee and American Injured War Zone Contractor the Right to Sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act after investigating the complaint.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.

Even those who were disabled due to the negligence of the company in question.

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, G4S, Government Contractor, Landmines, Lawsuits, Private Military Contractors, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department, Veterans, Wackenhut | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ronco Consulting named in Contractor Lawsuit for EEOC violations

Ronco Consulting was named in the Defense Base Act Class Action Lawsuit against Defense Base Act Insurance Companies and some Overseas Civilian Contractor Companies.

The EEOC granted a former Ronco Consulting Employee and American Injured War Zone Contractor the Right to Sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act after investigating the complaint.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.

Even those who were disabled due to the negligence of the company in question.

May 22, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Government Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Taxes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

United Nations board of inquiry finds Ronco Consulting failed to find mines

Careful who you follow….

Fartham vs Ronco Consulting

A United Nations Mine Action Employee has filed a lawsuit against Ronco Consulting Corporation for negligence after stepping on a landmine resulting in an immediate below the knee amputation in an area previously cleared by and certified clear of landmines by Ronco Consulting.

The United Nations board of inquiry found that Ronco failed to find the mine that injured Mr Fartham as well as three other mines.

The complaint states that Ronco Consulting, acting through it’s agents and/or employee’s, breached it’s professional duty of care to Fantham and did not exercise the reasonable care and skill expected of professional mine clearance companies.

Fartham vs Ronco Consulting

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Bomb Disposal, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Government Contractor, Landmines, Lawsuits, Mine Clearance, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Safety and Security Issues, United Nations, Vetting Employees | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ronco Consulting settles Fantham Lawsuit before bothering to respond

What a disappointment that this lawsuit never made it to discovery. 

The history of how this contract was managed deserved to be exposed. 

Another day…..

Ronco made this lawsuit go away, but this United Nations Board of Inquiries Report and others stand.

And no matter how big a settlement, Stephan will not be growing any body parts back

Careful who you follow

Substantial Settlement Achieved in Personal Injury Suit:

In August 2011, Blake Hannafan and Jim McGuinness settled a Personal Injury lawsuit on behalf of Stephen Fantham, arising from a traumatic leg amputation as a result of a land mine explosion in Sudan, Africa, against Ronco Consulting Corporation pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In addition, the settlement also included claims for loss of consortium to Mr. Fantham’s wife. The settlement was reached before Ronco even responded to the complaint.

The terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.

Ronco Consulting Sued for Negligence by United Nations Mine Action Employee

Fantham vs Ronco Consulting

January 10, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Explosive Remnants of War, Follow the Money, Landmines, Lawsuits, Legal Jurisdictions, Mine Clearance, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Safety and Security Issues, Sudan, Uncategorized, United Nations, United Nations Board of Inquiry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Defense Base Act Class Action

Statement concerning filing of class action for fraud and bad faith against KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting, CNA Insurance, AIG Insurance and others who conspired to deny benefits to severely injured contractors and to harm them further

Scott Bloch  files complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like

KBR, Blackwater.XE,  DynCorp, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting and the global insurance carriers AIG, CNA, ACE and Zurich, on behalf of thousands of former employees, for unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of injured employees and their families   

WASHINGTON, DC (September 26, 2011)

Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public. 

The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.

“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be case aside without the benefits of the law.  We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law.  We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democratic institutions. 

We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights. 

This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”

This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States. 

It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.  
“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long. 

We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”
This complaint is filed due to actions and omissions of defendants, in conspiracy with others, and individually, to defeat the right of American citizens and foreign nationals to receive their lawful benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”),  as it adopts the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).  
The lawsuit explains that those sued engaged under the RICO statute in an enterprise of fraudulent and or criminal acts to further their scheme to defeat the rights of individuals who have been injured or suffered occupational diseases, and death, while on foreign soil in support of defense activities under the DBA.  

These acts were perpetrated repeatedly through bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, using telephones, faxes, and United States mail .
 “These are heroes, decorated by America’s Armed Services,” said Bloch. 

“Some of the foreign contractors were decorated special forces soldiers from their countries who assisted the United States in combating threats.  The sheer disregard for human dignity and law is reprehensible and deserves punishment. 

These families and many others who have been harmed need treatment, need compensation, need redress of the wrongs that have been perpetrated by these huge companies and insurance carriers for the last 10 years. 

They have earned $100 billion per year on the backs of these people, with the blood of these plaintiffs and those whom they represent.”
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties.  

Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290
scott@scottblochlaw.com

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Blackwater, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Civilian Police, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Defense Base Act, DynCorp, Follow the Money, Government Contractor, Interpreters, Iraq, KBR, L-3, Legal Jurisdictions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department, Traumatic Brain Injury, USACE, USAID, Veterans, Wackenhut, War Hazards Act, Whistleblower | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ronco Consulting sued for negligence by United Nations Mine Action Employee

Careful who you follow….

Fartham vs Ronco Consulting

A United Nations Mine Action Employee has filed a lawsuit against Ronco Consulting Corporation for negligence after stepping on a landmine resulting in an immediate below the knee amputation in an area previously cleared by and certified clear of landmines by Ronco Consulting.

The United Nations board of inquiry found that Ronco failed to find the mine that injured Mr Fartham as well as three other mines.

The complaint states that Ronco Consulting, acting through it’s agents and/or employee’s, breached it’s professional duty of care to Fantham and did not exercise the reasonable care and skill expected of professional mine clearance companies.

Fartham vs Ronco Consulting

June 7, 2011 Posted by | Africa, ArmorGroup, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Demining, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Landmines, Legal Jurisdictions, Ronco, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, Sudan, United Nations | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wackenhut has new HQ, new ID

Palm Beach Post Money

JUPITER — The nation’s second-largest security firm is dropping the Wackenhut name, a brand that for decades was synonymous with watchmen in tan uniforms.

After two mergers and the construction of a new corporate home in Jupiter, the former Wackenhut now is known as G4S, the name of its British parent.

Though the company’s North American headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens displayed the logos of both Wackenhut and G4S, its new office in Jupiter is labeled with only the G4S name.

The Wackenhut brand also is coming off the badges worn by the company’s 50,000 guards.

“We see it as retiring a wonderful legacy,” said Drew Levine, president of G4S Secure Solutions-North America.

The renamed company still is in the business of supplying security guards in tan uniforms, but Levine has shifted his focus to selling “more than a gun and a guard.”

G4S is touting technology and surveillance systems in addition to guards. Traditionally, companies that need security services get their guards from one company and their surveillance systems from another firm. G4S is part of an industrywide effort to sell one-stop shopping.

Read the entire article here

February 19, 2011 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, G4S, Ronco, Wackenhut | , , , | Leave a comment

Review finds that bomb-sniffing dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq may not be up to snuff

LA Unleashed

The State Department’s inspector general said Friday that bomb-sniffing dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t being tested properly and may not be able to effectively detect explosives.

The inspector general’s review found that the companies hired to supply and train the animals weren’t testing them for all of the scents of the most commonly encountered explosives, increasing the chance of a dog missing a bomb in a vehicle or luggage. That puts U.S. diplomats at risk, the inspector general said.

The companies — U.S. Training Center in Moyock, N.C., a business unit of the company formerly known as Blackwater, and RONCO Consulting Corp. in Washington — also used expired or potentially contaminated materials for the scent tests, the inspector general’s report said.

Susan Pitcher, a spokeswoman for Wackenhut Services, RONCO’s parent company, called the inspector general’s review “inaccurate.” She said a canine expert engaged by the State Department to verify the detection capabilities of the dogs concluded that they complied with the required standards.

Pitcher, however, said that the company had not been provided the expert’s report, receiving instead what she described as “on-site briefings” about the results.

The inspector general’s office said it had not been given the results of the expert’s inspection when it released its report.

The U.S. Training Center did not respond to a request for comment on the inspector general’s report.

The inspector general’s review was limited to three canine programs handled by U.S. Training Center and RONCO. The report did not say how many dogs each contractor provides.

Overall, the State Department uses nearly 200 bomb-sniffing dogs. The report only offers a glimpse of the costs of these services, saying the State Department pays $24 million a year alone for canine services at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The report faults the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is responsible for managing the canine program, for weak oversight. Investigators found that the contractors, not the bureau, were running the program and policing themselves.

During visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the investigators did not meet any bureau personnel with expertise in bomb-sniffing dogs. “They depended upon the knowledge and expertise of the contractors to ensure all contractual requirements and other standards were met,” according to the report.

The contractors told the investigators “that no outside organization with expertise in explosive detection canines had ever reviewed their operations in Iraq or Afghanistan,” the report said.

In comments printed in the report, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security said it is taking steps to improve the canine program and plans to hire an independent expert who will ensure all the contract requirements are met properly.

Original Article here

October 13, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, G4S, Ronco, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, Wackenhut | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Report says Ronco and The US Training Center (Blackwater) bomb-sniffing dogs not up to snuff

Update by Richard Lardner Associated Press at CB Online

WASHINGTON (AP) – The State Department’s inspector general said Friday that bomb-sniffing dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t being tested properly and may not be able to effectively detect explosives.

The inspector general’s review found that the companies hired to supply and train the animals weren’t testing them for all of the scents of the most commonly encountered explosives, increasing the chance of a dog missing a bomb in a vehicle or luggage. That puts U.S. diplomats at risk, the inspector general said.

The companies — U.S. Training Center in Moyock, N.C., a business unit of the company formerly known as Blackwater, and RONCO Consulting Corp. in Washington — also used expired or potentially contaminated materials for the scent tests, the inspector general’s report said.

Representatives from RONCO, owned by Wackenhut Services, and the U.S. Training Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the inspector general’s report.

The inspector general’s review was limited to three canine programs handled by U.S. Training Center and RONCO. The report does not say how many dogs each contractor provides.

Overall, the State Department uses nearly 200 bomb-sniffing dogs. And the report only offers a glimpse of the costs of these services, saying the State department pays $24 million a year alone for canine services at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The report faults the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is responsible for managing the canine program, for weak oversight. Investigators found that the contractors, not the bureau, were running the program and policing themselves.

During visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the investigators did not meet any bureau personnel with expertise in bomb-sniffing dogs. “They depended upon the knowledge and expertise of the contractors to ensure all contractual requirements and other standards were met,” according to the report.

And the contractors told the investigators “that no outside organization with expertise in explosive detection canines had ever reviewed their operations in Iraq or Afghanistan,” the report said.

In comments printed in the report, the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security said it is taking steps to improve the canine program and plans to hire an independent expert who will ensure all the contract requirements are met properly.

Richard Lardner Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The State Department’s inspector general says bomb-sniffing dogs used in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t being tested properly and may not be able to effectively detect explosives.

In a report released Friday, the inspector general said its review found that the companies hired to supply and train the dogs weren’t testing them for all of the scents of the most commonly encountered explosives, increasing the chance of a dog missing a bomb in a vehicle or luggage. That puts U.S. troops at risk.

The companies also used expired or contaminated materials for the scent tests.

In comments printed in the report, the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security says it is taking steps to improve the canine program and plans to hire a contractor that will ensure all the contract requirements are met.

October 8, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, Ronco, Ronco Consulting Corporation, State Department | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s PMC Déjà vu All Over Again

By David Isenberg at Huff Post

Thanks to the dedicated folks over at the Project on Government Oversight, who just last September broke the story about drunken party antics and serious security lapses by Armor Group North America contractors at the U.S. embassy in Kabul we now have ANOTHER example of lack of proper U.S. government oversight of a private military contractor at an American embassy.

In July 2005, Triple Canopy was awarded the Baghdad Embassy Security Force contract. From the start of the contract in July 2005 until September 2009, DS has obligated to Triple Canopy a total of $438 million. Currently, Triple Canopy has more than 1,800 employees dedicated to the contract in Baghdad. Approximately 1,600 of these employees are guards from Peru and Uganda.

The POGO press release says:

A previously unreleased report by the Department of State Office of Inspector General (IG), obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), found that the State Department has failed to properly oversee the contractor responsible for guarding the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The IG found problems similar to those POGO uncovered at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
The IG discovered that security is undermined by significant training and language deficiencies in the Embassy Baghdad guard force, in violation of the contract held by Triple Canopy ( http://www.triplecanopy.com ). The IG also found that conditions for guards at Camp Olympia were “unsafe,” and included “four times the acceptable number of guards residing in a room” and “frayed electrical wires in high traffic areas.” In the most serious case, there was an electrocution death in September 2009.

According to the report, in the areas in which State conducted the most oversight, Triple Canopy performed well. But in the areas in which State had little oversight-such as training and English language proficiency-the contractor’s performance failed to meet contract requirements. “No random language proficiency checks were carried out,” the report stated.

“As a result, Triple Canopy has been able to hire and employ guards and guard supervisors with insufficient language ability.”

In addition, Triple Canopy’s guards reported working an average of 10 to 11 consecutive days, and the IG found that some worked as many as 39 days in a row.

POGO has posted the State Department IG report, “The Bureau of Diplomatic Security Baghdad Embassy Security Force: Performance Audit here so people can read it for themselves. Thus far, it is not available on the Middle East Regional Office portion of the State Department Inspector General website, which is where such a report should be.

Now, it is worth remembering that Triple Canopy did its job reasonably well with respect to its core contract function, i.e., keeping the embassy safe. The very first finding in the IG report says:

The Baghdad Embassy Security Force (BESF) provided through a contract with the private security company, Triple Canopy, has been effective in ensuring the safety of chief of mission personnel in Baghdad’s volatile security environment.
Also the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) generally manages the Triple Canopy contract well, although it could improve its oversight of personnel attendance and language qualification.

But the IG report also states the contracting officer’s representative in Baghdad does not verify either the guards’ attendance at their posts or the accuracy of personnel rosters (muster sheets) before they are submitted, to ensure contractor charges for labor are accurate.

In addition, DS does not ensure that personnel have required English language proficiency.

It does not take a PhD to understand that if your guards do not speak English it is going to be difficult for their Western managers to communicate with them. As the report says on page five, “Due to their low levels of proficiency, some guard supervisors are unable to adequately communicate with their subordinates, which could lead to serious problems during an emergency.” In case you think this is theoretical nitpicking here is what the report says:

Nine English-speaking Ugandan guards told the OIG team they could not communicate with their Spanish-speaking Peruvian supervisors. When the Ugandan guards need to speak to their supervisors, they must find a bilingual guard to interpret. According to the regional security office, during an emergency or threat, guard supervisors are expected to lead, take charge, and issue orders to subordinates. Without English language proficiency, they would be unable to adequately function during an emergency. OIG believes the Peruvian supervisors’ low level of English language proficiency undermines guard force effectiveness.

The report notes in the comments it received from DS that:

The methodology used by the DS program office to determine language proficiency is not clear, but OIG’s detailed review of the supervisors’ training files indicated that not all of the supervisors possessed Level 2 English language proficiency for their position as required by the contract. Numerous supervisor files included signed letters from Triple Canopy management requiring them to attend Level 0 or Level 1 English classes. Also, in discussions with Triple Canopy’s training instructors, OIG learned that Triple Canopy was aware that not all of the guards who were promoted to supervisory positions possessed the required Level 2 English proficiency.

Hopefully someone will ask Triple Canopy when it became aware of the lack of English proficiency and what, if anything, they were planning to do about it.

The IG report also found that DS lacks standards for maintaining training records. As a result, Triple Canopy’s training records are incomplete and in disparate locations making it difficult for the Bureau to verify whether all personnel have received required training.

The BESF contract requires Triple Canopy to maintain employee training records that may be reviewed by the contracting officer’s representative (COR). OIG found that Triple Canopy does not adequately maintain training records for all employees. Specifically, through an examination of records, OIG was unable to determine whether all guard supervisors had taken and passed the required supervisory training course. Additionally, training records are not consistently formatted or housed in a central location, making it difficult for the COR to review them. Lastly, OIG determined that the Triple Canopy training department in Baghdad does not follow any standard operating procedures for training data collection and storage. (p. 16)

Another problem is that there are several weaknesses in the canine explosive test procedures carried out by Triple Canopy’s subcontractor, RONCO Consulting Corporation.

RONCO could not confirm whether it is testing for all scents required by the contract. In addition, possibly expired and contaminated materials are used to train and test the canines, although fresh testing materials are required. Finally, the way in which these materials are stored may lead to cross-contamination.

More troubling is thta DS representatives at Embassy Baghdad do not have criteria for the number of consecutive days guards can work without a day off. The Office of Inspector General found that some guards had worked as many as 39 days without a break.

This is similar to what happened with the ArmorGroup guards in Afghanistan, when they were found to be working 12 hour shifts without a break. How hard is it to understand that a tired guard is an unsafe guard?

Then there was the matter of unsafe working conditions.

Triple Canopy BESF guard housing is unsafe and in violation of the contract, several safety codes, and Department of State (Department) regulations. Specifically: Triple Canopy houses guards in unsafe conditions. Guards live in crowded barracks and shipping containers that exceed occupancy limits by more than 400 percent. Barracks lack required sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and two exit points.

Barracks’ exits also exceed the minimum safe distance, and are sometimes blocked by objects. The barracks and containers do not have required fire alarms, smoke detectors, emergency lighting, or exit signs. Currently, no entity is overseeing housing safety, although both Triple Canopy and the Department are required to do so.

Interestingly, Triple Canopy is a member of IPOA, a private military contractor trade association. Triple Canopy joined IPOA in July 2008.

IPOA has a Code of Conduct, albeit largely toothless, which its member companies are supposed to follow. And Triple Canopy has its own Code of Conduct and Business Ethics that employees are expected to follow.

With respect to IPOA’s Code Section 6.3 states, “Signatories shall utilize adequately trained and prepared personnel in all their operations in accordance with clearly defined company standards that are appropriate and specific to their duties undertaken and the environment of operations.” Having guards who lack the proper language proficiency would seem a violation.

Similarly 6.4 states, “Signatories shall properly vet, supervise and train personnel.” That suggests Triple Canopy has failed insofar as it knew it had personnel who lacked the required language skills yet was not doing anything to remedy it.

In theory IPOA could undertake an investigation of Triple Canopy. IPOA has a mechanism for filing complaints against its member companies. But, as it states, “The SCOPe shall not be legally binding. It is intended that it serve as a guide for the Standards Committee in its monitoring of Member Company compliance with the IPOA Code of Conduct (“the Code”).” Given that IPOA’s budget comes, in large part, from its member companies it does not have any incentive to investigate them. Even if it did its tiny, albeit well paid permanent staff, does not have much time or organizational resources to do so. It seems it is easier for IPOA to dismiss people who report bad news as “sometime-cynics” then to take seriously its own self-proclaimed mission to “promote high operational and ethical standards of firms active in the peace and stability operations industry.”

Still, taking the larger view, Triple Canopy represents progress. Unlike ArmorGroup in Iraq, where the contractors potentially put the embassy in danger, Triple Canopy did keep the Baghdad embassy safe at all times. And at least no guards were drinking vodka shots off someone’s ass. Slow progress perhaps, but progress nonetheless.

Finally, just to end where we started, after POGO blew the whistle on ArmorGroup last year, the State Department fired eight guards and announced it would not renew the contract of ArmorGroup after it expires in July, but would grant it a six-month extension “to allow for an orderly transition between contractors.” But since ArmorGroup is still on the job until the end of this year, the State Department wants to toughen its oversight of the private security contractor, and it intends to do that by hiring other contractors to oversee this one. Talk about hiring the fox to guard the henhouse.

March 26, 2010 Posted by | ArmorGroup, Triple Canopy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment