Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

GAO Contingency Contracting Report October 2009

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 2, 2009

DOD, State, and USAID Continue to Face Challenges in Tracking Contractor Personnel and Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan

What GAO found

In response to a statutory requirement to increase contractor oversight, DOD,
State, and USAID agreed to use the Synchronized Predeployment and
Operational Tracker (SPOT) system to track information on contracts and
contractor personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the exception of USAID in
Afghanistan, the agencies are in the process of implementing the system and
require contractor personnel in both countries to be entered into SPOT.
However, the agencies use differing criteria to decide which personnel are
entered, resulting in some personnel not being entered into the system as
required. Some agency officials also questioned the need to track detailed
information on all contractor personnel, particularly local nationals. Further,
SPOT currently lacks the capability to track all required data elements, such
as contract dollar value and the number of personnel killed and wounded. As
a result, the agencies rely on other sources for contract and contractor
personnel information, such as periodic surveys of contractors.
DOD, State, and USAID reported nearly 226,500 contractor personnel,
including about 28,000 performing security functions, in Iraq and Afghanistan,
as of the second quarter of FY 2009. However due to their limitations, the
reported data should not be used to identify trends or draw conclusions about
contractor personnel numbers. Specifically, we found that the data reported
by the three agencies were incomplete. For example, in one quarterly
contractor survey DOD did not include 26,000 personnel in Afghanistan, and
USAID did not provide personnel data for a $91 million contract. The agencies
depend on contractors to report personnel numbers and acknowledge that
they cannot validate the reported information.
USAID and State reported that 64 of their contractors had been killed and
159 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan during our review period. DOD officials
told us they continue to lack a system to reliably track killed or wounded
contractor personnel and referred us to the Department of Labor’s Defense
Base Act (DBA) case data for this information. However, because DBA is a
worker’s compensation program, Labor’s data include cases such as those
resulting from occupational injuries and do not provide an appropriate basis
for determining how many contractor personnel were killed or wounded
while working on DOD, State, or USAID contracts in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, the data provide insights into contractor casualties. According
to Labor, 11,804 DBA cases were filed for contractors killed or injured in Iraq
and Afghanistan during our review period, including 218 deaths. Based on our
review of 150 randomly selected cases, we estimate that 11 percent of all
FY 2008 DBA cases for the two countries resulted from hostile actions.

Full Report here

One Response to “GAO Contingency Contracting Report October 2009”

  1. MAJ Mike Cunningham said

    I recently redeployed from Iraq earlier this summer (Jul 2009). While in Iraq, I served as the Chief of the Mosul Regional Contracting Center (MRCC). I can tell you from personal experience that the SPOT system is definitely not the most accurate reporting system. Although it is better than having no system, our procedures for reporting changed several times during my deployment. The majority of the companies that I conducted business with were local national businesses. I had several multi-million dollar contracts as well with third country nationals. All of these contracts were reported on SPOT.
    The major issue that concerned me is the accuracy. The only way to obtain the required information was to send the required documents to the company owner (both in english and arabic) and have them enter their employees’ data. There was absolutely no way for myself or any of my personnel to verify the employee data because the majority of these companies were located “outside the wire” of the forward operating base. If a company decided to fire and then re-hire another individual, the MRCC would never know. Even if we could keep up with all changes, it would increase an already heavy workload on the individual contingency contracting officer.
    As for the comment in reference to SPOT lacking the ability to track the dollar amount of the contract, I agree. However, each SPOT report has the contract number listed. Therefore GAO or any other entity can track down the dollar amount.
    Overall, I would say that SPOT is a step in the right direction to get accountability of contractor employees, but the users need to define what the system is designed to specifically track. The additional information (i.e. dollar amount, DBA data, etc) is tracked using different systems. If the idea is to have SPOT track all this additional info, it will create more workload for the contingency contracting personnel.

    MAJ Mike Cunningham
    Command and General Staff College
    Fort Lee, VA

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