Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

GOP, Dems come together to fight human trafficking by contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan

The Hill

A bipartisan group of members from the House and Senate proposed legislation on Monday that seeks to crack down on human trafficking by contractors that the U.S. military hires for work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act is a reaction to reports from the Commission on Wartime Contracting and the inspectors general of the Defense and State departments that overseas contractors are known to engage in practices that are illegal under U.S. employee rights standards. These include seizing workers’ passports to trap them at a work site, lying about compensation, engaging in sexual abuse and generally keeping workers in a state of indentured servitude.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would help improve the treatment of third-country workers who are lured to work in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be defrauded or enslaved.

“Modern-day slavery by government contractors — unknowingly funded by American taxpayers — is unconscionable and intolerable,” Blumenthal said. “Current law prohibiting human trafficking is insufficient and ineffective, failing to prevent or punish abuses

Blumenthal’s bill, S. 2234, is also co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

The House companion bill, H.R. 4259, was sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), and is co-sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.).

Issa’s committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday morning at 10 a.m., with Blumenthal and Portman expected to testify on the bill at that time

Please see the original and read more here

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Human Trafficking, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan poppy killers get scrutiny absent in prior contracts

U.S. contractors with almost $2 billion worth of counter-narcotics business in Afghanistan will get more scrutiny than they faced for work completed in Latin America over the past decade, government officials said.

The Washington Post  June 26, 2011

DynCorp International, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT and ARINC, which are working with the Defense and State departments on anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan, performed similar work in Latin America with inadequate competition and little oversight, according to a report by the majority staff of a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee and a previous investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

The contractors should expect new accountability measures at State and the Pentagon, as well as heightened scrutiny from Congress, as the United States seeks to stabilize the government in Afghanistan, where drug trafficking generates as much as $100 million a year for the Taliban, officials said.

“Many of the things we’ve been doing in Afghanistan, it’s not reinventing the wheel — we’ve been doing it in Colombia for a decade, and with many of the same contractors,” said Laura Myron, a spokeswoman for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the subcommittee.

McCaskill is to convene a hearing this week on Afghanistan contracting, at which she’ll address the counter-narcotics work, Myron said in an e-mail.

Please read the entire story at The Washington Post

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, DynCorp, Pentagon, State Department | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Close but no SIGAR

Commentary: Arnaud de Borchgrave

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) — After no less than 10 quarterly reports to Congress, 40 percent of $56 billion — $22.4 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds — allocated to civilian projects in Afghanistan cannot be accounted for by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.

The original amount for civilian aid is now being increased to $71 billion.

Corruption and outright theft are rampant in the projects SIGAR supposedly inspects but SIGAR’s top cop, retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields, kept coming up empty handed as he labored to protect his 150-person organization (32 of them stationed in Afghanistan, most of whom don’t speak any local language).

SIGAR employs 50 auditors, many of them “double-dippers,” who collect both government pensions and six-figure salaries, but none of them ever conducted required forensic or contract audits. More than 100 cases of corruption — both U.S. contractors and Afghan subcontractors — were ignored. U.S. Government Accounting Office auditors look at programs but are not shown the uncompleted completion.

U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., led a team of Senate investigators that spent two years looking into what became the SIGAR scandal.

Please read the entire commentary at UPI

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, SIGAR | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan Police Training Bedeviled by Delays

By Christine Spolar
Huffington Post Investigative Fund

Original at Huff Post

A troubled multi-billion contract that has failed to create a reliable national police force in Afghanistan—key to the drawdown of U.S. troops—will be extended again.

During a Senate homeland security subcommittee hearing Thursday, a Pentagon official laid out plans for a new “full and open competition” for police training that likely could take until the end of the year. The new bidding could hamper an already delayed training process.

The decision also almost certainly means the government will pay millions of dollars more to the current police trainer, DynCorp International. Federal auditors have criticized poor government oversight of the DynCorp contract for years – although DynCorp’s training was not called into question.

The decision left Democrats and Republicans, gathered at a subcommittee on contracting oversight hearing, demanding better coordination and accountability.

“I don’t think DynCorp has always had the leadership or the plan in place to convey to the people who work for them what they should be doing and how,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) told the Huffington Post Investigative Fund after the hearing. “And there was a disconnect between the military, the State Department and the actual work product of DynCorp.”

DynCorp has consistently defended its work in Afghanistan.  Read Original here

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Civilian Police, Contract Awards, Contractor Oversight, DynCorp | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Senators Call for Changes to Troubled, Costly Afghan Police Training Program

by Ryan Knutson, ProPublica

State and Defense department officials took a tongue-lashing today, trying to explain to a Senate subcommittee how the government has poured $6 billion since 2002 into building an effective Afghan police force with disastrous results.

ProPublica and Newsweek examined the problems [1] with police training in Afghanistan in a story published last month. The program, managed under a contract with DynCorp International, has faced challenges on every front, from recruitment to inadequate training periods to corruption to poor officer retention.

“Everything that could go wrong here, has gone wrong,” Gordon S. Heddell, the inspector general of the Department of Defense, acknowledged to an ad hoc subcommittee [2] of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Heddell’s office, along with the State Department’s Inspector General, completed a six-month audit in January of the program that found significant lapses.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the subcommittee chair, and others on the panel were less interested in rehashing the program’s well-known shortcomings and more interested in hearing about solutions. “What you laid out was a problem we knew in 2001,” said Sen. Edward Kaufman, D-Del., in response to comments from Heddell. “What are the two or three things you can spend $6 billion on and not end up with essentially nothing?”

Defense and State Department officials agreed that clearer guidelines for the contractor and more oversight are needed to improve the program. Currently, the State Department has just seven contract overseers in Afghanistan, said David T. Johnson, an assistant secretary for the State Department. The agency hopes to have 22 in place by September, Johnson said.

Another key would be to make training ongoing, rather than just the six weeks that police recruits are getting now, said David S. Sedney, a deputy assistant secretary with the Defense Department. “This is not a weeks- or months-long [process] — it’s a years-long process,” he said, adding that police need to be partnered with American military and more experienced Afghan troops on whom they can model their behavior.

Even if the program makes headway, some senators questioned whether it would be sustainable without a massive ongoing commitment from U.S. taxpayers. The Afghan police and army are slated to receive $11.6 billion to fund their operations for 2011, with just over half going to the police, Sedney said. McCaskill pointed out that’s only $2 billion less than the entire country’s Gross Domestic Product.

“It’s obvious that Afghanistan is not going to be able to afford what we’re building for them,” she said. The U.S. has made a “billion-dollar commitment for years to come.”

The government is already exploring whether a change in contractors might benefit the police-training program. DynCorp’s contract has been extended for several months, but the State Department has issued a call for new bids, hoping an array of companies will step up to compete for the job, Johnson said. McCaskill was skeptical, however.

“I will be shocked — like winning the lottery — if we end up with anybody other than DynCorp,” she said.

Write to Ryan Knutson at Ryan.Knutson@propublica.org

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