Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

More DoD Investigations of Allegations of U.S. Contractor-Fueled Human Trafficking

By NICK SCHWELLENBACH at POGO  January 26, 2012

It appears that Fiscal Year 2011 saw more Defense Department criminal investigations of alleged human trafficking by its contractor supply chain than in any one of the last five years, according to a Pentagon inspector general report publicly released today (it is dated January 17).

All three investigations involved or allegedly involved U.S. government contractors or subcontractors in Southwest Asia: Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

“While not criminal prosecutions, there have been some civil and administrative actions recently. Earlier this year, the Justice Department joined a whistleblower qui tam lawsuit that alleged that ArmorGroup North America had not reported trafficking-in-persons violations by its personnel as required by its contract. ArmorGroup North America, which had a contract to defend the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, settled the lawsuit for $7.5 million. ArmorGroup North America’s parent company said in a statement that the settlement was made “to avoid costly and disruptive litigation—and that there has been no finding or admission of liability.”

Please read the entire post here

January 26, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Africa, ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Human Trafficking, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Citizen Killed in Attack at Embassy Annex in Kabul CIA Compound

US Citizen Killed in Attack was CIA employee, wounded American still not identified

KABUL, Afghanistan An Afghan working for the U.S. government killed one CIA employee and wounded another American in an attack on the intelligence agency’s office in Kabul, officials said Monday. The assailant was killed.

Afghan employee kills U.S. citizen at Kabul CIA base

(Reuters) – An Afghan employee of the U.S. government opened fire inside a CIA office in Kabul on Sunday evening, killing an American and injuring a second, U.S. and Afghan officials said, in the second major breach of embassy security in two weeks.

The CIA compound is one of the most heavily guarded in Kabul, and has been off-limits for almost a decade, since shortly after the Taliban’s fall from power in 2001.

It also lies at the heart of the capital’s heavily-guarded military, political and diplomatic district, a virtual “green zone” that is almost impossible for ordinary Afghans to enter.

The New York Times Alissa Rubin September 26, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — An American citizen was killed and another was wounded on the grounds of an annex to the United States Embassy here by an Afghan employee, an embassy spokesman said on Monday

The gunman was killed and the motivation for the attack is under investigation, said Gavin Sundwall, the embassy spokesman. The wounded American was evacuated to a military hospital for treatment.

The killing was followed by a barrage of gunfire between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. People who were near the compound where the attack occurred said they heard an explosion before gunfire erupted.

The attack was at a building used by the Central Intelligence Agency in Kabul, according to several western officials. It is near the presidential palace. It was not clear whether the dead American was a C.I.A. employee, a contractor or someone else working on the grounds.

Rarely visible, the agency has acknowledged few losses in Afghanistan. The last one that was made public was in 2009 when a suicide bomber penetrated the agency’s base in Khost Province, killing at least seven agency employees, including a senior operative.

The C.I.A. station in Kabul, the agency’s largest outpost overseas part of the United States Embassy complex. On Sept. 13, militants carried out a daylong attack on another part of the embassy grounds, and top American officials have attributed that attack to a group called the Haqqani network, which they say is supported by parts of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence. A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment about the latest attack.

Please read the entire story here

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, CIA, Civilian Contractors, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Contracting Mess Won’t Appear in FAPIIS, but Should?

Cross Posted from The Fine Print at OMB Watch

Give yourself credit if you guessed “ArmorGroup North America Inc.” (AGNA) and the “Lord of the Flies” environment they oversaw in the housing camp for U.S embassy guards in Kabul, Afghanistan, which our friends over at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) exposed back in 2009.

Earlier this month, AGNA, the private security company and subsidiary of the British security services conglomerate G4S, settled a whistleblower’s lawsuit associated with the scandal, agreeing to pay a $7.5 million fine. Importantly, though, the contractor settled the suit without an admission of fault or liability, effectively sweeping the incident under the rug with regard to future considerations of government contracts

Any future contracting officials seeking to determine ArmorGroup’s integrity and trustworthiness will not see the incident listed in the government’s top contracting performance database, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).

Currently, FAPIIS only displays lawsuits or administrative actions taken by federal, state, or local governments where there is an admission of fault or liability by the contractor. And guess what contractors always demand whenever they settle something out of court; yup, immunity from any finding of fault, keeping many of the worst contracting abuses out of the government’s databases and away from the eyes of contracting officials.

In AGNA’s case, that includes allegations of the company blatantly disregarding “its obligations to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul” – according to the whistleblower who sued – and various other nefarious wrongdoings – according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Offenses include:

  • “AGNA submitted false claims for payment on a State Department contract to provide armed guard services at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan”;
  • “[I]n 2007 and 2008, AGNA guards violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) by visiting brothels in Kabul, and that AGNA’s management knew about the guards’ activities”;
  • “AGNA misrepresented the prior work experience of 38 third country national guards it had hired to guard the Embassy”; and
  • “AGNA failed to comply with certain Foreign Ownership, Control and Influence mitigation requirements on the embassy contract, and on a separate contract to provide guard services at a Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.”

Those seem like some important pieces of information that a contracting official might want to take into consideration if choosing between ArmorGroup and one of its modestly more responsible competitors when determining the award of a future federal contract.

Of course, contracting officials – and the public for that matter – could see this information if Congress simply passed some common sense contracting transparency reforms. Last spring, then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced a bi-partisan bill including just such reforms.

Included in the legislation was language to pull into FAPIIS “records of any administrative proceeding entered into by a contractor at any level of government” no matter the finding of fault or liability. There was also a provision “increasing the length of time from five years to 10 that a contractor’s past performance record on a government contract” would stay in the database.

The legislation ingloriously died in committee, however, and with Sen. Feingold now out of the Senate, the transparency community needs a new champion to step up in Congress and push for these basic contracting reforms.

Please see the original and leave your comments at OMB Watch

July 19, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Wackenhut | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Internal Report Issues Black Eye for US Embassy in Kabul

USA Today

WASHINGTON — The State Department is failing to properly oversee nearly $2 billion in contracts to battle the drug trade, build infrastructure and train police in Afghanistan, according to a bluntly worded internal assessment.

The report by the department’s inspector general questions whether the U.S. will be able to stabilize the country in time to meet President Obama’s goal of withdrawing some troops by June 2011.

“Embassy oversight of contracts and grants is seriously inhibited by the dangerous security conditions … as well as by the shortage of qualified contract officer representatives in Kabul,” says the report, released last week. The embassy “faces serious challenges in meeting the administration’s deadline for ‘success’ in Afghanistan,” it adds.

The embassy, which reports to special representative Richard Holbrooke, says the report is generally “accurate in its assessments,” spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in an e-mail from Kabul. “We are already implementing a great majority of the report’s recommendations.”

That includes better contract oversight, said Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew. “We’re very much aware of the problems that developed in Iraq and are working to avoid outcomes that would be problematic,” he said.

In a January cable reported by The New York Times, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who runs the embassy, questioned whether the military could meet its timeline for turning over the country to Afghan forces.

The ambassador and his team “have made impressive progress,” the report acknowledges. It attributes some problems to the rapid expansion of the embassy’s staff, which is growing from 320 to 900 with 100% turnover from the Bush administration. Other key criticisms:

• Frequent visits by senior officials and members of Congress divert diplomats from crucial counterinsurgency tasks.

• The embassy doesn’t have enough people to carry out anti-corruption and outreach initiatives.

• No one on the public affairs and website staff speaks Pashto, the language of the areas being contested in the counterinsurgency.

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction recently blasted the State Department’s oversight of a $2.5 billion contract with DynCorp to train Iraq’s police force, saying invoices were paid with no assurance the work was done correctly. The problem is being repeated in Afghanistan, this new report says.

Because of security concerns, diplomats often can’t visit training sites or other U.S. taxpayer-funded projects, the report says. Just five contract officers in Kabul “cannot provide effective oversight” of $1.8 billion in contracts, the report says. Two officers have since been added, Hayden said.

The report also undercuts a key example cited by Holbrooke as part of his pledge to reduce the government’s reliance on contractors for reconstruction and aid projects. In discussing that change, Holbrooke has repeatedly cited his canceling of a $30 million contract for women’s programs. He said he gave the money to the Kabul embassy.

However, the embassy doesn’t have people to oversee the grants, the audit says. While the embassy hired more staff, Hayden said, it also had to hire a Washington-based contractor to administer the program because Afghan organizations lacked the “internal controls” required to receive direct U.S. funding.

March 9, 2010 Posted by | DynCorp, State Department | , , , | Leave a comment