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

KBR claims Iraqi Jurisdiction over Ryan Maseths Electrocution Death Lawsuit

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review April 5, 2011

U.S. soldiers living on military bases in Iraq had no expectation that they were protected by Pennsylvania law instead of Iraqi law, a lawyer for a Houston-based defense contractor argued today in Pittsburgh federal court. 

KBR Inc. wants U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to use Iraqi law in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, of Shaler against the company. Maseth was electrocuted Jan. 2, 2008, while showering at a military base in Baghdad.

Cheryl Harris and Douglas Maseth claim shoddy electrical work by the contractor caused their son’s death. KBR has denied responsibility and argues that Iraq has more interest in having its law applied to this case than Texas, Pennsylvania or Tennessee.

Harris said after today’s hearing that KBR’s arguments just feed the frustration she feels from having the case stuck in pretrial maneuvers for the past three years. Members of the military deserve to have U.S. standards applied to the bases they serve on, she said.  Please read the entire article here

April 5, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Halliburton, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues | , , | Leave a comment

Defense contractor, KBR, wants wrongful death case of Ryan Maseth to be tried under Iraqi law rules

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review

A Houston-baseddefense contractor says in federal court documents filed today in Pittsburgh that it prefers Iraqi law to Texas or Pennsylvania law when it comes to being sued for the death of a Shaler soldier.

Cheryl Harris and Douglas Maseth are suing KBR Inc. for the death of their son, Sgt. Ryan Maseth. Maseth, 24, died Jan. 2, 2008, while showering at a military base in Baghdad. The Green Beret was electrocuted by a water pump that shorted out.

His parents claim shoddy electrical work by KBR caused Maseth’s death. KBR maintains it wasn’t responsible for repairs and did not work on the water pump.

KBR Inc. today asked U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer to use Iraqi law in handling the case.

“Iraq is the location where the Plaintiffs’ injury occurred, it is the location where all events relating to the incident occurred, and it is the location where the alleged conduct at issue occurred,” the company’s motion says. “There is no other jurisdiction that has a greater interest in having its law apply to this litigation.”

Under Iraqi law, if KBR can convince the court that someone else was more responsible for Maseth’s death, the company would be exempt from damages. In cases in which more than one party is responsible for a death or injury, Pennsylvania law holds every party fully liable for damages, the brief says. Texas law allows a jury to determine how liable each party is for damages, the brief says.

Please read the entire story here

February 4, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Department of Defense, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , | 1 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

IG Blames System Failure in Death of Ryan Maseth

The Death of Ryan Maseth

By KIMBERLY HEFLING (AP) – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s Inspector General has determined that military leaders and a military contractor failed to protect a Green Beret who was electrocuted while showering in his barracks in Iraq.

The 2008 death of 24-year-old Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth has triggered investigations into the other electrocution deaths of U.S. troops and the review by the Defense Department’s IG.

The inspector general says that “multiple systems and organizations” failed and exposed Maseth to “unacceptable risk.” That’s according to a summary of the IG’s findings obtained by The Associated Press.

It specifically spells out that KBR Inc. installed improperly grounded equipment that faulted and led to Maseth’s death.

July 27, 2009 Posted by | KBR | , , | Leave a comment