by David Isenberg at Huffington Post July 30, 2012
A new report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) provides some detail on the sacrifices made by private contractors who engaged in reconstruction or stabilization activities in Iraq between May 1, 2003, and August 31, 2010.
The total number includes 318 Americans (U.S. military, federal civilian employees, and U.S. civilian contractors), 111 third-country nationals, 271 Iraqis and 19 of unknown nationality who were working in support of the U.S. reconstruction or stabilization mission during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Of course, the actual total number, as opposed to the merely official one, is almost certainly higher, according to the report
For several reasons, an exact calculation is not possible. First, no agency managed a central database for reconstruction or stabilization casualties. Each U.S. government entity involved in Iraq’s reconstruction–the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of State (DoS), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)–maintained its own employee casualty database. The Department of Labor (DoL) maintains a database of civilian contractors of all nationalities that were killed in Iraq who worked for or were contracted by U.S.-based companies or were insured through U.S. insurance carriers and notified DoL through the Defense Base Act.
Second, the databases we could access often did not contain enough detail to confirm whether a casualty was stabilization- or reconstruction-related. For example, there were 1,047 military casualties where the type of mission could not be determined.
Finally, there was no central source of information on third-country nationals or Iraqi civilians killed while working on or in support of U.S. projects.
What the report, “The Human Toll Of Reconstruction Or Stabilization Operations During Operation Iraqi Freedom” does say is that “Americans suffered 44 percent of the total reconstruction or stabilization-related deaths, including 264 from the Department of Defense (37 percent) and 54 U.S. federal civilian employees and U.S. civilian contractors (8 percent).” So, looking just at the very limited subset of contractors working stabilization and reconstruction-related activities, you get 57 deaths.
Bloomberg Tony Capaccio July 27,
At least 719 military personnel, civilian contractors, Iraqis and third-country nationals died inIraq over seven years performing U.S. reconstruction and stability operations, according to the first audit of its kind.
The dead include 264 of the 4,409 U.S. troops who died in Iraq from May 1, 2003, through August 30, 2010, according to the audit released today by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
The audit represents the first time a U.S. agency has attempted to tally the deaths associated with spending about $60 billion in congressionally appropriated reconstruction and stabilization funds.
Nothing was safe or “soft” about reconstruction missions, according to the report. “The human losses suffered in Iraq and outlined in this report underscore the point that when such operations are conducted in combat zones, they are dangerous for everyone involved,” the report said.
The deaths occurred during U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, train police and security forces and restructure Iraq’s government institutions.
“The actual number of deaths related to reconstruction or stabilization activities is certainly higher than 719,”according to the report. “For several reasons, an exact calculation is not possible,” the report said, noting that no agency managed a central database for these categories of casualties.
Funds from a $4 billion program intended to improve relations between the two countries were siphoned off by the enemy, a new audit finds. Eli Lake reports on why CERP was still called a success.
Eli Lake at The Daily Beast April 29, 2012
During the war in Iraq, battalion commanders were allocated packets of $100 bills and authorized to use them for anything from repairing a schoolhouse to paying off ex-rebels and paying blood money to the families of innocents killed by U.S. forces. But a new audit finds that in some cases that cash made its way to the pockets of the very insurgents the United States was trying to fight.
The money was part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), and from 2004 to 2011 the U.S. government poured $4 billion into it in Iraq. And because the Pentagon gauged CERP a success, a similar initiative is under way in Afghanistan. “We think CERP is an absolutely critical and flexible counterinsurgency tool,” Michele Flournoy, who was then undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2010.
But was CERP really a success in Iraq? A 2012 audit conducted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and released to the public on Monday found that 76 percent of the battalion commanders surveyed believed at least some of the CERP funds had been lost to fraud and corruption. “Commanders sometimes perceived the corruption as simply a price of doing business in Iraqi culture and others perceived it as presenting a significant impediment to U.S. goals,” the report says. “Several asserted that reconstruction money may have ended up in the hands of insurgents.”
David Isenberg Huffington Post April 30, 2012
Today the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) has released its latest quarterly report. Here is what happening with private contractors in Iraq.
As of April 3, 2012, the Department of State (DoS) reported that 12,755 personnel supported the U.S. Mission in Iraq, down about 8 percent from the previous quarter. Current staffing comprises 1,369 civilian government employees and 11,386 (U.S., local national, and third country national) contractors. (89 percent of the total).
Of these contractors, DoS estimated that about 2,950 provided security-related services for DoS sites, down more than 22 percent from last quarter (3,800).
In February, Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides said that DoS will continue to reduce the number of contractors over the coming months in an attempt to “right size” Embassy operations.
The Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq (OSC-I) manages U.S. security assistance to the Government of Iraq. OSC-I is staffed by 145 U.S. military personnel, nine Department of Defense (DoD) civilians, and 4,912 contractors.
But according to SIGIR, DoS tends to undercount the number of contractors working in Iraq. It found that:
In early April, DoS asserted that only 6 U.S. government employees and 48 contractors work on what it considers reconstruction programs. This total does not include any of the several hundred personnel working under the auspices of the PDP, [Police Development Program] which remains the single-most expensive ongoing initiative financed by DoS for the benefit of Iraq. Nor does it include any of the hundreds of employees and contractors supporting the missions of OSC-I and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), though both agencies oversee projects paid for with U.S. reconstruction funds.
According to the Defense Department, if you include the OSC-I contractors, the total for private security contractors rises to 3,577.
The takeaway is that after all these years the U.S. government still has problems tracking the number of contractors working in Iraq. The SIGIR report found that:
While SPOT [Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker database, administered by DoD] data provides SIGIR with a comprehensive view of contractor and grantee personnel in Iraq, significant apparent differences exist between agency-reported contractor numbers and SPOT data. For example, DoS reported to SIGIR that there were almost 11,400 contractors supporting Mission Iraq as of April 3, 2012, while SPOT data shows 5,172 working for DoS.276 In addition, USAID reported that 1,854 contractors are currently working on USAID projects in Iraq.277 However, SPOT data shows only 110 USAID contractor and grantee personnel in Iraq as of April 1, 2012. SIGIR intends to investigate these discrepancies and provide an update in the July 2012 Quarterly Report.
With regard to security contractors the Government of Iraq (GOI) announced in February that 124 private security firms were registered to work for foreign government entities and private firms engaged in activities in Iraq, but the GOI has taken steps to minimize the presence and scope of these firms. According to the GOI, the Security and Defense Committee of the Council of Representatives has drafted legislation to reduce the number of PSC firms working in Iraq from 124 to 63. Of the remaining firms, 15 to 20 would be foreign firms and the rest would be Iraqi.
On the fraud front, some of SIGIR’s noteworthy investigations were:
Three former officers of a U.S. defense contractor, the wife of one of the officers, and four foreign nationals were indicted for their alleged roles in a fraud and moneylaundering scheme involving contracts for reconstruction projects in Iraq. The defendants were also are charged with an aggregate of 74 wire-fraud offenses.A British citizen and his company were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay kickbacks in exchange for receiving more than $23 million in DoD subcontracts from April 2006 to August 2008. The British contractor allegedly paid more than $947,500 in unlawful kickbacks to two employees of a prime contractor to the U.S. government in order to obtain these subcontracts for work performed in support of the Coalition Munitions Clearance Program (CMCP).
David Welch, a former U.S. civilian contract employee, pled guilty to conspiring to steal 38 U.S. military generators and sell them on the Iraqi black market.
As of April 10, SIGIR is continuing to work on 110 open investigations.
There are a number of PSC firms working on the Police Development Program; especially in providing security at the Baghdad Police College Annex (BPAX). At BPAX, Triple Canopy, Inc., contractors provide protective details and escort PDP convoys. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, LLC, provides perimeter security, with Iraqi Security Forces guarding the outer perimeter. EOD Technology, Inc., operates the counter-mortar and counterrocket system, and three U.S. military personnel are attached to the RSO explosive ordnance disposal unit. Another U.S. contractor provides a computer technician who manages the classified email system used by PDP personnel.
January 2012 Quarterly Report
Public Laws 108-106 and 95-452, as ammended
Quarterly Report and Semi-Annual Report to the United States Congress
Bloomberg at SF Gate July 31, 2011
A U.S. contractor in Iraq overbilled the Pentagon by at least $4.4 million for spare parts and equipment, including $900 for an electronic control switch valued at $7.05, according to a new audit.
Based on the questionable costs identified in a $300 million contract with Dubai-based Anham LLC, the U.S. should review all its contracts with the company in Iraq and Afghanistan, which total about $3.9 billion, said Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen.
“The audit found weak oversight in multiple areas that left the government vulnerable to improper overcharges,” Bowen wrote in the forward to his 30th quarterly report, released today. The contract in question was funded with a combination of money earmarked for Iraqi Security Forces and Army operations and maintenance funds.
Among the “egregious examples of overbilling” by Anham were $4,500 for a circuit breaker valued at $183.30, $3,000 for a $94.47 circuit breaker and $80 for a small segment of drain pipe valued at $1.41
Monitoring Responsibilities for Serious Incidents Involving Private Security Contractors Once U.S. Military Forces Leave Iraq Have Not Been Determined (SIGIR 11-019)
LETTER FOR SECRETARY OF STATE July 29, 2011
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
COMMANDING GENERAL, U.S. FORCES–IRAQ
Monitoring Responsibilities for Serious Incidents Involving Private Security Contractors Once U.S. Military Forces Leave Iraq Have Not Been Determined (SIGIR 11-019)
In September 2007, Blackwater, Inc., a private security contractor (PSC) under contract with the
Department of State (DoS), was involved in an incident that resulted in the death of 17 Iraqi
civilians. As a result of the incident and its repercussions, the Department of Defense (DoD) and
DoS took actions to improve their coordination and oversight of PSCs involved in serious
incidents.1 In April 2009, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)
reported on the DoD system for reporting, investigating, and remediating serious incidents
involving PSCs in Iraq.2 Because of the planned withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq in
December 2011, SIGIR reviewed the U.S. government’s current and planned oversight of PSCs
in that country. In April 2011, SIGIR reported on the relationship between the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers’ Gulf Region District’s reconstruction activities and its security contract
requirements with Aegis Defense Services, Limited.3
SIGIR’s objectives for this report were to determine (1) changes in the serious incident reporting
and investigating system since SIGIR’s 2009 report, (2) plans for the system after U.S. military
forces leave Iraq, and (3) coordination of serious incidents with the Government of Iraq (GOI).
SIGIR also followed up on the status of recommendations in its April 2009 report. SIGIR will
be issuing separate reports on the current status of those recommendations.
SIGIR performed this audit under the authority of Public Law 108-106, as amended, which also
incorporates the duties and responsibilities of inspectors general under the Inspector General Act
of 1978 and in furtherance of a mandate in Section 842 of the National Defense Authorization
Act for 2008, Public Law 110-181, pertaining to contracts for the performance of security and
reconstruction functions in Iraq. SIGIR encountered significant constraints imposed by DoS’
Bureau of Diplomatic Security. The Bureau was unresponsive to SIGIR’s requests for
1 According to DoD guidance a serious incident includes, but is not limited to, “any damage of equipment or injury
to persons, attacks, any weapons discharge, criminal acts, traffic accidents, incidents involving ISF [Iraqi Security
Forces] and any incident believed to have possible strategic or operational impact. Incidents where aggressive
personal behavior and share the road policies are violated shall be reported.”
2 Opportunities To Improve Processes for Reporting, Investigating, and Remediating Serious Incidents Involving
Private Security Contractors in Iraq, SIGIR 09-019, 4/30/2009.
3 Gulf Region District Is Adjusting Its Aegis Security Contract Requirements for Changes in Reconstruction
Activities in Iraq, SIGIR 11-015, 4/27/2011.
In August 2009, the Pentagon awarded five Theater-wide Internal Security Services (TWISS) contracts for site security in Iraq. These contracts, awarded to EOD Technology, Inc.; Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, LLC; Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group; Triple Canopy, Inc.; and Protection Strategies Inc., have a combined value of $485 million.
U.S base commanders nominate contracting officer’s representatives (CORs), who are responsible for verifying the U.S. government receives what it pays for. The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) appoints and trains CORs and manages their activities. DCMA uses Quality Assurance Representatives (QARs) to monitor the CORs’ and contractors’ performance.
Yet although COR duties are critical to the U.S. government’s oversight of the TWISS contracts, almost 40% of the CORs it surveyed said the training they received did not prepare them for their duties and 25% said they lack sufficient time to conduct effective oversight, according to an audit report “Control Weaknesses Remain in Oversight of Theater-wide Internal Security Services Contracts,”
released today by the Office of the Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).
Why is this important? Please read the entire story at HuffPost
A top U.S. oversight office has recommended that the United States halt further funding for a $26 million education academy for senior Iraqi security officials after discovering that the Iraqi government had never agreed to operate or maintain the facility.
The United States has spent more than $13 million on the project.
“At this point, it is unclear if the GOI [Government of Iraq] will budget for the operations and maintenance of the IIA [Iraqi International Academy] upon completion,” said Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, in a report sent to the Central Command’s Gen. James N. Mattis and released Tuesday. “Without such an agreement, U.S. funds spent on construction are at risk of being wasted, as are the funds planned to equip and furnish the facility,” Bowen added.
FORMER SENIOR EMPLOYEE WITH U.S. MILITARY CONTRACTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO BRIBERY SCHEME RELATED TO CONTRACTS IN SUPPORT OF IRAQ WAR
WASHINGTON – A former senior employee of a U.S. military contractor pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to pay $360,000 in bribes to U.S. Army contracting officials stationed at a U.S. military base in Kuwait, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.
According to court documents filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Dorothy Ellis, 53, of Texas City, Texas, was employed by former U.S. military contractor Terry Hall. As Hall’s most senior employee, Ellis’s responsibilities included serving as the liaison between Hall and U.S. Army contracting officials stationed at Camp Arifjan, a U.S. military base in Kuwait.
From the spring of 2004 through November 2007, Hall operated and had an interest in several companies, including Freedom Consulting and Catering Co. (FCC) and Total Government Allegiance (TGA). At various times during this period, these companies provided goods and services to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and its components based on a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) to deliver bottled water and a contract to construct a security fence in Kuwait and elsewhere.
A BPA is a type of contract by which the DoD agrees to pay a contractor a specified price for a particular good or service. Based on the BPA, the DoD orders the supplies on an as-needed basis. The contractor is then obligated to deliver the supplies ordered at the price agreed upon in the BPA. The term for such an order by the DoD is a “call.”
According to court documents, Hall obtained the calls made under the bottled water BPA and fence contract by bribing certain U.S. Army contracting officers, including former Majors James Momon and Christopher Murray. Hall, assisted by Ellis and Hall’s business partner, paid Momon approximately $330,000 and paid Murray approximately $30,000. In exchange for these bribe payments, from January 2006 through May 2006, Momon arranged for the DoD to pay Hall’s companies more than $6.4 million through the bottled water BPA, and Murray assisted in the award of the security fence contract.
Ellis admitted that she participated in the bribery scheme by providing Momon and Murray access to secret bank accounts established on their behalf in the Philippines, which enabled Hall and others to transfer bribe payments to them. Ellis also admitted that she obtained confidential Army contract pricing information from Momon that was designed to give Hall an unlawful advantage in the bidding process for an ice contract from the DoD. In exchange for her assistance in the bribery scheme, Ellis received a $100,000 “bonus” from Hall in August 2006.
The charge of bribery conspiracy carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine. Under the plea agreement, Ellis agreed to forfeit $360,000 to the government. Sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 1, 2010, before U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner.
The case against Ellis arose out of an investigation into corruption at the Kuwait contracting office at Camp Arifjan, which has led to charges against 15 individuals, to date. Of those 15 defendants, 13 have pleaded guilty, with some already serving prison sentences. For example, on Dec. 2, 2009, former U.S. Army Major John Cockerham was sentenced to 210 months in prison and ordered to pay $9.6 million in restitution. On Aug. 13, 2009, Momon pleaded guilty to receiving approximately $1.6 million in bribes and agreed to pay $5.7 million in restitution. On Dec. 17, 2009, Murray was sentenced to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay $245,000 in restitution.
On Aug. 11, 2010, Wajdi Birjas, a former DoD contract employee, pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy in connection with his payment of tens of thousands of dollars worth of bribes to Army contracting officers, including Murray, Momon and a senior procurement non-commissioned officer. Birjas also pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy arising out of his participation in a scheme to transport $250,000 of Momon’s bribe proceeds from Kuwait to the United States. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2011.
On Feb. 18, 2010, Hall pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy and agreed to forfeit $15.7 million to the U.S. government in connection with his payment of more than $3 million in bribes to Cockerham, Momon, Murray and former U.S. Army Major Eddie Pressley. The case against Hall’s co-defendants, Eddie Pressley and his wife Eurica Pressley, is scheduled for trial Jan. 24, 2011, in Decatur, Ala.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward J. Loya, Jr. and Peter C. Sprung of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by special agents of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Army Criminal Investigation Command Division, the FBI and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
Today’s plea represents the Department of Justice’s commitment to protect U.S. taxpayers from procurement fraud through its creation of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force. The National Procurement Fraud Initiative announced in October 2006, is designed to promote early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The investigation is ongoing. Original Story here
President Obama will officially declare an end to combat operations in Iraq tomorrow. Also winding down is the massive reconstruction effort there. The U.S. has spent more than $53 billion on projects ranging from new schools and hospitals to Iraq’s energy grid.
There have been some successes, but Stuart Bowen, the special inspector for Iraq reconstruction, says there’s also been tremendous waste: between four and five billion dollars have been spent on hundreds of unfinished or ineffective projects. That’s about 10 percent of the total spent on Iraqi reconstruction. I asked Stuart Bowen what was the most notorious example of waste in the Iraqi reconstruction.
The following are excerpts relevant to private military contractors.
Number of contractors: Current, 119,700. Peak, 171,000 (Q4 2007)
On July 22, 2010, several rockets impacted inside the International Zone, killing three foreign-national contractors working for Triple Canopy, a U.S.-based security company.Figure1.10 [ see p. 16] lists the 15 contracting companies that have reported the largest number of deaths in Iraq since March 2003.
This quarter, the Department of Labor (DoL) received reports of 12 additional deaths of contractors working on U.S.-funded programs in Iraq. DoL also received reports of 882 injuries this quarter that caused the injured contractors to miss four or more days of work. Since 2003, at least 1,487 death claims have been filed with the DoL.
DoS has also requested that it be allowed to use the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III to support its operations in Iraq beyond December 2011. As of June 30, 2010, however, Kellogg, Brown and Root, Inc. (KBR)–the sole LOGCAP III contractor–is scheduled to remain in Iraq only until the end of 2011. According to U.S. Embassy-Baghdad, it does not have a plan to meet its support requirements if KBR pulls out. more here
James Burch, the Defense Department‘s deputy inspector general for investigations, says his agency is investigating 223 cases — 18% more than a year ago.
Investigators have charged an Army officer with pocketing cash meant to pay Iraqi civilian militiamen, contractors offering an Army officer $1 million for the inside track on a road project in Afghanistan, and three contractors for an alleged conspiracy to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fuel from a U.S. base in Baghdad.
Army Maj. John Cockerham was sentenced in December to 17½ years in prison for accepting $9 million in bribes for contracts to sell water and other supplies to the U.S. military.
In Afghanistan, where U.S. spending on reconstruction will soon surpass the $50 billion spent in Iraq, the U.S. government is bolstering its investigative presence. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has a staff of 15 and plans to expand to 32 by October. By September 2011, the agency plans to have 49 full-time employees, says Raymond DiNunzio, an assistant inspector general
In Iraq, investigators have opened 67 fraud cases this year, compared with 69 for all of 2009, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). In Afghanistan, it’s 42 cases this year vs. four last year.
Stuart Bowen, who heads SIGIR, says more tipsters are coming forward. “Some of these people have come back to the States, so they’re out of the threat zone,” he says. “Perhaps what they saw is gnawing at their conscience.”
More instances of contract fraud and theft are expected as American troops draw down in Iraq and increase their presence in Afghanistan, witnesses at a hearing on wartime contracting said Monday.
“We expect an increase in the volume of criminal investigations as a result of the drawdown in Iraq and force increases in Afghanistan,” said James Burch, deputy inspector general for investigations at the Pentagon.
The potential theft of military equipment that has accumulated in Iraq over the last seven years and cost overruns are two areas of concern, he added. Also, paying bribes to government officials is commonplace in some regions, further complicating matters, Burch said.
The speed required in wartime contracting itself is a risk factor for more contract abuse, and contract administrators may see oversight as a burden that hurts their ability to effectively do their work, Burch said.
This was the 12th hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, created by Congress to look at wartime contracting for reconstruction, logistics and security.
The Defense Department arm that investigates criminal cases is working on 223 investigations, 18 percent more than a year ago, in overseas contingency operations, Burch said. Other investigative offices also have seen numbers rise.
The Office of Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIRIR) has opened 64 cases so far in 2010, compared with 69 in all of 2009, and has 113 cases open currently versus 93 a year ago.
SIGIR’s counterpart for Afghanistan, created in 2008, has also seen its caseload increase with increases in staffing. The Office of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has 42 investigations pending into government property theft, contract fraud and corruption compared with just four cases a year ago.
About half the cases SIGAR is investigating involve Afghan nationals who are working on U.S.-funded reconstruction projects and are suspected of corruption, said Raymond DiNunzio, an assistant inspector general with SIGAR. That presents a challenge because it means working through the underdeveloped Afghan judicial system and weak law enforcement system, he added. Read the full report here