Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Posts Tagged ‘Defense Department’

Contractors in Iraq to be Subject to American Laws

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 19, 2009

Under American law, the Defense Base Act, they’ll still be allowed to kill, maim, or allow their employees to be raped, just not anyone else.

Courthouse News Service

by Nick Wilson

WASHINGTON (CN) – Senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would bring foreign military contractors under the jurisdiction of American laws following an appeal from the parents of a soldier allegedly killed by a contractor in Iraq.
In introducing the legislation, Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight Chair Claire McCaskill from Missouri told the story of Lt. Col. Dominic Baragona who was allegedly killed when a contractor’s truck slammed into him in 2003. The man’s parents spent years appealing to the Defense Department, the Bush administration and the Army to seek accountability and information regarding their son’s death.
The family sued Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Company (KGL), the contracting company, in 2006. McCaskill said the contracting firm did not show up before the court until after the family won a $4.9 million judgment. The contractor then argued that the government does not have jurisdiction over it and the court vacated the judgment.
“The need for Congress to act with this legislation has raised serious questions for me about the systematic failures that have allowed companies like KGL to escape accountability for their actions,” McCaskill said.
The subcommittee also released a report showing that federal agencies rarely dismiss abusive contractors.
The investigation revealed that over the last five years, the Defense Department Office of Inspector General reported 2,700 convictions, but the Defense Department only debarred 708 contractors.
The Department of Homeland Security did not debar any contractors in 2006, despite widespread reports of waste, fraud and abuse following Hurricane Katrina.
The “Lieutenant General Dominic ‘Rocky’ Baragona Justice for American Heroes Harmed by Contractors Act” would require foreign companies that enter into contracts with the United States to consent to personal jurisdiction in cases involving serious injury, death or rape.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Civilian Contractors Toll in Iraq and Afghanistan Ignored by Defense Department

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 9, 2009

Civilian Contractor Toll in Iraq and Afghanistan Ignored by Defense Dept.

by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica – October 9, 2009afghanistan-2007-contractorbombed_gt20091009

An Afghan policeman walks past a vehicle that had carried U.S. civilian contractors, after it was targeted by a suicide bomber in the Logar province. (Farzana Wahidy/AFP/Getty Images/January 2007 file photo)

As the war in Afghanistan entered its ninth year, the Labor Department recently released new figures [1] for the number of civilian contract workers who have died in war zones since 9/11. Although acknowledged as incomplete, the figures show that at least 1,688 civilians have died and more than 37,000 have reported injuries while working for U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than 5,200 soldiers have died in the two war zones, meaning that one civilian contractor has died for every three soldiers — a ratio that reflects the unprecedented degree to which the Pentagon has outsourced the work of war. Civilian contractors make up [2] about half the total U.S. forces in the war zones and they have been deployed on the front lines far more than any previous U.S. conflict [3]. Iraq and Afghanistan are the most outsourced wars in U.S. history.

Despite the importance of civilian contractors to its mission, the Defense Department hasn’t been measuring their sacrifice. A little-noticed report [4] from the Government Accountability Office last week noted that the Pentagon has yet to implement a Congressional requirement to track contractor fatalities.

Military officials brushed off inquiries from the GAO, telling the agency that they “continue to lack a system to reliably track killed or wounded contractor personnel.” To get a handle on the issue, the GAO examined a sample of files from the Labor Department, which oversees a workers compensation program required by a federal law known as the Defense Base Act. The act requires contract firms to purchase insurance to cover civilians injured or killed while working abroad on federal contracts.

While the system is not designed to track war injuries, investigators determined that about 11 percent of reported contractor casualties stem from combat — about the same percentage of soldier casualties attributed to hostile action, according to an April 2007 report [5] by the Veterans Affairs Department. For both groups, most injuries are due to vehicle collisions, muscle or back strains or common, everyday accidents.

The Department of Defense is not alone in ignoring its hired help. Neither the State Department nor USAID could tell with certainty how many contractors they employed, the GAO found. USAID, for instance, failed to report how many civilians it had put to work under a $91 million contract to develop hydroelectric plants and small and medium businesses in Afghanistan. A State Department contracting officer insisted that there was no need to track local Iraqi hires, despite specific statutory language to the contrary, the report found. “Officials acknowledged that they are likely undercounting the actual number of contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the GAO concluded. State, USAID and DOD officials all told the GAO that they were working to fix the problem.

What it all means is that nine years after the launch of the most contractor-intensive war in U.S. history, nobody is sure how many contractors there are, what they are doing, or how many have been killed or wounded.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: