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Posts Tagged ‘MsSparky’

Fluor loses seven contractors in Kabul Suicide Bombing

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 31, 2011

 

Cross Posted from MsSparky

13 Americans believed killed in Kabul bombing    UPDATED October 21, 2011

From the comments:

Team Fluor,

Saturday we suffered a tragic loss of seven of our own teammates during an attack in Kabul. Each of those we lost was a friend and valued part of our team. We lived and worked together. We forged bonds of camaraderie that are only found at times like this.

We each deal with our grief in different ways; some will find comfort in memorial services like the one we held at Dubbs or the ramp ceremony at Bagram, others will find that talking to friends, a Chaplain, or counselor helps. We have Site Managers and Employee Assistance Program teams on site to help us through this difficult time and find ways to cope.

Yesterday we notified the families of those we lost and we have assistance officers with them to help each of the families get through the difficult times ahead. I have asked our leaders to stay engaged with our colleagues that need assistance here and answer the questions that we can. I want to be sure you all have this information, as I know that rumors and internet blogs have not always been the best source for information.

Should you have any questions or need assistance, please talk to your immediate supervisor. He or she can provide the first step to find direction or help and ensure the proper steps are taken. Keep in mind that we have professional counselors on our EAP team available to assist you.

Although many of us know them personally, out of respect for their families we are not releasing any names of those lost in the attack. Please join me as our thoughts and prayers are with our teammates and their families during this difficult time.
George Rabb, Country Manager, LOGCAP
Fluor Government Group

Please see the original at MsSparky

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

KBR truck drivers awarded class arbitration status for unpaid overtime worked (docs)

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 16, 2011

by MsSparky May 16, 2011

KBR truck drivers win a major victory in the ongoing battle with KBR regarding being forced to work “off the clock”. The KBR management war cry of “84 and no more”, meaning a driver could only document 84 hours per week on their time sheet even though they were forced to work much more, meant drivers were forced to risk their lives and work for free in a profession with the highest civilian casualty rate in Iraq.

KBR truck drivers initiated class arbitration proceedings before Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc. (JAMS) on November 1, 2007, asserting that KBR breached their employment contracts with them and other employees by failing and refusing to pay them for all hours worked.

arbitrator, granted class certification Thursday to KBR truck drivers who said KBR Inc. breached an employment agreement by pressuring them to under-report hours worked under the military’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract in Iraq.

While most cases involving unreported overtime should be dealt with on an individual basis because they usually involve different supervisors giving different orders to different employees, the current dispute is not a “typical ‘off-the-clock’ case,” according to arbitrator Michael Loeb.

In the Certification Award, Arbitrator Loeb granted petitioners’ motion to certify a class of truck drivers and convoy leads who worked for KBR in Iraq between November 1, 2003 and the present.

NOTICE OF MOTION AND MOTION FOR ORDER CONFIRMING ARBITRATOR’S APRIL 28, 2011 AWARD GRANTING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION AND APRIL 28, 2011 AWARD CONFIRMING WAIVER OF RIGHT TO CHALLENGE WHETHER ARBITRATION CLAUSE ENCOMPASSES ARBITRATION OF CLASS CLAIMS

The law firms involved with this case are:

Rukin Hyland Doria & Tindall

Skikos Crawford Skikos & Joseph

Altshuler Berzon

Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson

I hope other defense contractors are taking note. KBR has gotten away with these and other employee abuses for years, but it looks like it’s finally catching up with them and I do hope it costs them big. If I’m not mistaken, forcing someone to work and not paying them is and always has been considered slavery!

Where was the DoD in all this?  Why were they allowing this to go on?   Ms Sparky  

Please see the original post at MsSparky’s

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Uncounted Contractor Casualties

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 9, 2011

Your team here at the blog researches every news report or release both military and civilian, injured or killed, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Libya, Africa.  The Casualties that you will find listed here, The Civilian Contractors blog or at the ACIIA Memorial Page are the only ones we can find.   MsSparky keeps on filled on on the suspicious deaths. Less than 10% of the Casualties reported as Defense Base Act Claims are acknowledged.

Special Thanks to David Isenberg for putting this one together

Please see his blog The PMSC Observer

Of all the things said and written about private military and security contractors working for the U.S. government in various war zones one of the least discussed is the sacrifices they make. And like regular military forces they also pay the ultimate sacrifice, as in dying. Unlike regular military personnel their deaths rarely get any notice, aside from a company press release and a few paragraphs in the hometown newspaper.

Their sacrifices are so unrecognized that if Washington, D.C. were to build yet another war memorial on the mall The Tomb of the Unknown Contractor would have to be considered a viable candidate for selection. To paraphrase the old saw about regular military forces, one might say in regard to recognition of contractors wounded and killed, “nothing is too good for our contractors so that’s what we’ll give them. Nothing.”

Admittedly there is slightly better recognition of the wounded and dead contractors than when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq but that is not saying a whole lot.  There simply has not been much detailed analysis of this subject. That is why a recent paper strongly deserved attention. It is Dead Contractors: The Un-Examined Effect of Surrogates on the Public’s Casualty Sensitivity by Prof. Steven L. Schooner and student Collin D. Swan, both of the George Washington University Law School,  was recently published in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.

In the paper they examine the “casualty sensitivity” effect. Economists define this as an inverse relationship exists between the number of military deaths and public support. Currently, most studies suggest that “majorities of the public have historically considered the potential and actual casualties in U.S. wars and military operations to be an important factor in their support.”

But Schooner and Swan believe this effect is being undermined by the use of contractors and merits reexamination. Sadly, the unrecognized fact is that

The military is populated by a “blended workforce” that integrates soldiers with private-sector contractor employees—comprised of both U.S. citizens and, to a large extent, foreign nationals—in every conceivable aspect of the mission abroad.” Not surprisingly, one result of this integration is that contractors are dying alongside—or in the place of—soldiers at unprecedented and (arguably) alarming rates. For the most part, this “substitution” has taken place outside of the cognizance of the public and, potentially, Congress.

Just how much risk are contractors exposed to? The authors note that on today’s battlefield, the ratio of U.S. troops to contractors has never been lower.  While the number of contractors employed by the military varied from conflict to conflict, historically, the ratio of contractors to troops averaged around one-to-six. Other than Bosnia, the last decade witnessed the U.S. government’s first sustained operations where contractors consistently outnumbered troops in the battle space. The Congressional Research Service recently reported that private security contractors are four times more likely to be killed in Afghanistan than uniformed personnel.

As a consequence contractors are inevitably bearing a larger portion of the casualty rate.  The paper notes that cumulatively, contractor deaths account for over twenty-five percent of total losses since the U.S. entered Iraq and Afghanistan. But even that dramatic figure understates the extent to which—in the last two-to-three years—contractors have increasingly absorbed the most significant cost of our military actions.

And despite the fact that U.S. troops have been withdrawing from Iraq and will do the same in Afghanistan starting this year contractor casualties are unlikely to decrease. A number of actions work against that. These include:

  • Secretary of Defense Gates plans to reduce the number of Army and Marine ground forces by as many as 27,000 troops within the next three years.
  • On February 1, 2011, Army Secretary John M. McHugh suspended the Army’s current effort to in-source work from contractors and subjected all future insourcing proposals to rigorous review.
  • As the State Department prepares to take over the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq, James F. Jeffery, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, testified in early 2011 that he expects his staff to more than double in size within the coming year, from 8,000 to 17,000 people; most of that personnel growth will be contractors.
  • The outsourcing of military responsibilities is not limited to DOD but extends well into other agencies, such as the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Homeland Security.

The paper attempts to total contractor casualties to date. They leave out certain categories such as contractors working for other states or governments or non-military/non-contractor U.S. civilian deaths, such as fatalities amongst non-uniform employees of the U.S. Department of State, the Agency for International Development, or the various Defense Department agencies so the following figures understate the total. Still, the number is more than large enough to merit attention. According to the data, more than 2,300 contractors have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan (in addition to another 58 contractors killed in Kuwait) between 2001 and the first quarter of 2011. Another 51,000 contractors have been injured; more than 19,000 at least somewhat seriously. This reflects the startling fact that contractor deaths now represent over 27 percent of U.S. fatalities since the beginning of these wars.

In Iraq more than 1,537 contractors, about a quarter of the overall U.S. death toll in that country, have died since 2003. In Afghanistan, the 763 dead contractors represent approximately one third of U.S. deaths in that country.

What is even more striking is that—in both Iraq and Afghanistan—contractors are bearing an increasing proportion – annually and cumulatively – of  the death toll.  DBA fatality claims by contractors in 2003 represented only four percent of all fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan.  From 2004 to 2007, that number rose to twenty-seven percent.  From 2008 to the end of 2010, DBA [Defense Base Act] fatality claims accounted for an eye-popping forty percent of the combined annual death toll.  In 2010, contractor fatality claims represented nearly half (forty-seven percent) of all fatalities.  In the first quarter of 2011, contractors represented forty-five percent of all fatalities.

So contractors get killed you say. Certainly tragic, but one can say the same about regular military casualties Why do contractor casualties matter then? The answer, according to the authors, is:

All of this matters because of the idea, inherent in our democratic notions of governance, that public support (or public consent) is critical to any successful military action abroad…. Unfortunately, the number of military casualties no longer tells the whole story of human sacrifice associated with military actions…  In fact, a massive contractor presence permits the administration to suggest, and the public to believe, that our military presence on the ground is smaller—by as much as half—than what is actually required to accomplish the mission.

Thus high contractor casualties produce a substitution effect that artificially reduces the public’s perceived human cost of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan—quantified by some exclusively as soldier casualties.

There is a lot of fascinating detail in the paper which I don’t describe here due to space limitations so let’s go to the author’s conclusion:

An honest, accurate tally of the human toll of military conflicts plays a critical role in a representative democracy.  Yet the public, the media, and American policy-makers currently lack relevant, accurate data.  The pervasive deployment of contractors on the modern battlefield requires the injection of contractor deaths into the casualty sensitivity equation

Perhaps most importantly, we encourage the media to report responsibly on the true human costs of the government’s contemporary military actions. This tally, particularly to the extent that it proves inconsistent with conventional wisdom, is important for the public—and Congress—to grasp and internalize both the level of the military’s reliance on contractors and the extent of contractor sacrifice.  Increasingly, contractors make the ultimate sacrifice, and that sacrifice merits respect and gratitude.  Ultimately, the public weighs the intangible benefits of achieving foreign policy objectives against the most tangible costs imaginable—the lives of those sacrificed to achieve those objectives.

In weighing that balance, all lives must be counted.

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Labor, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Civilian deaths up while defense contractors downsize in Middle East

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 18, 2011

We’ll be reporting here soon on the Defense Base Act Claims numbers as reported by the Department of Labor and who has caused them to be so skewed

Thanks to MsSparky for putting this together

In a recent article published by to DangerZoneJobs.com, the foremost authority on overseas contract employment, it was reported there were over 179,000 civilian DoD contractor personnel deployed in Iraq (Operation New Dawn (OND), Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR).

As you can see the contractor numbers are down significantly from the 250,335 reported in Iraq and Afghanistan in March 2010.

According to DOD, there were 250,335 DOD contractor personnel in the CENTCOM AOR compared to approximately 272,000 uniformed personnel in the region who are supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan during the first quarter of 2010.

Sadly, while contractor personnel counts were down, contractor deaths were up. Overseas Civilian Contractors scours the various reports in an attempt to compile an accurate list of contractor deaths and injuries. They feel that even one contractor death unaccounted for is one too many. They report that during the 4th Quarter of 2010 there were 140 civilian contractor deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The total number of deaths for 2010 was 513 up from 336 for 2009. The total number of civilian contractor deaths since 2001 is 2,540. In addition to deaths, there have been nearly 66, 500 various injuries reported for civilian contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Contractor employee numbers down, contractor employee deaths up. It’s not looking good!

Please see the original at MsSparky

Posted in ACE, Aegis, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Injured Contractors, Iraq, Racketeering, spykids, Zurich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

3rd anniversary of the electrocution death of SSG Ryan Maseth

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 2, 2011

Please see the tribute to Cheryl Harris and Ryan Maseth at MsSparky’s

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Misjudgements | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Year’s Toast 2011

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 1, 2011

Cheers

Again this year to

T Christian Miller for his continued investigative work on issues vital to Injured Military, Veterans, and Civilian Contractors at ProPublica and with NPR.  Your Traumatic Brain Injury coverage will benefit soldiers and contractors as well.

Last year we predicted you would win an award of  “some kind” for your efforts.   It wasn’t long before they started piling up and all well deserved.

Our sincerest Thanks for your many years of listening to story after story.

MsSparky !!  Can’t say enough, not here anyway.  Pedal to the metal.

Veterans Today for your support and help in promoting issues vital to Injured Veterans and Civilian Contractors everyday, every year.

Our Big Advocate Bruce H Nicholson for countless “unbilled” hours.  Your support has been over the top.  We look forward to an even more productive year this year.

Our “A” Team at American Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan for your unrelenting research and DBA claim decision database.  We haven’t seen anything yet, so we are told, can’t wait.

Much of the work done here at DefenseBaseActComp is not yet published and many of the people who do the work choose to remain anonymous.

To all of you who support our Injured Civilian Contractors and the families of those who were killed, named and unnamed

We wish you a Very Happy New Year !!

Cheers !

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Injured Contractors, T Christian Miller | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Congratulations and Special Thanks to MsSparky

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 15, 2010

All of us at Defense Base Act Comp would like to Thank MsSparky for her tireless efforts and her support of injured contractors.  We look forward to the next thousand posts!!

Ms Sparky’s one thousandth (1000th) blog post

Oh my! 1000 published blog posts! Who would have figured after 30 months of investigative blogging I would still be at it. 1000 published posts is a huge accomplishment for any blogger. I’m very proud of this milestone!

One would think I would have run out of things to write about regarding Defense contracting fraud and Pentagon incompetence, but it just keeps spewing forth. It’s like the Defense Departments very own “Old Faithful” geyser of crap! It just keeps blowing! I have to thank companies like Fluor, Dyncorp, CSA, SBH, Blackwater, ArmorGroup, Agility and mostly….(tearing up) KBR for making stupid management decisions that always give me something to write about. I will be forever grateful (sniff sniff).

I couldn’t have met this milestone without the support of my friends and family, my regular readers, guest writers, other collaborating bloggers, published authors, investigative reporters, super sleuths, whistle blowers, attorneys, concerned citizens, former and current defense contractor employees, widows, spouses, parents and most importantly………

I have to say, this has been a most amazing journey with the most interesting twists and turns along the way. Blogging at is not like any 9-5 job I’ve ever had. I can’t really plan my day. I may THINK I know what I’m going to be doing after I get that first cup of coffee, but then reality sets in when I open my email and there’s some little (or big) gem of information. I just get all excited like a kid on Christmas morning! 2010 has been an interesting year because the majority of my work has been unpublished and behind the scenes. It doesn’t pay much in dollars, but I think this is the most rewarding and satisfying job I have every had!

One of the hardest, but most rewarding parts of this job is watching victims prevail as they doggedly pursue justice not only for themselves but for others. I’ve watched victims overcome tragedy and turn their pain and grief into something positive for those still suffering. I’m in constant awe of the strength and determination of the human spirit.

Without a doubt, the very best part of this job are the friends I’ve made along way.  Some, I’ve never met in person. Some, I never will, but friends just the same. I am truly blessed!

Thank you for the FIRST 1000 posts!  Please see the original with comments here

Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Attention KBR truck drivers past and present

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 4, 2010

From MsSparky

Even though I was a KBR electrician, I think KBR truck drivers are the most under appreciated under-recognized of all KBR employees. I believe there have been more drivers killed and critically injured than any other group at KBR. KBR drivers haul everything from drinking water, fuel, ice, mail, food and even the hooches (CHU’s/trailers) the soldiers and civilians live in. If it weren’t for the drivers we very well could have been sleeping on the ground, eating bugs and drinking water out of the Tigris River. YUCK!! A personal “HATS OFF” TO ALL KBR DRIVERS!!

They put in long hours. Much of which  is on the road dodging bullets, rocket propelled grenades (RPG’s) and improvised explosive devices (IED’s). Many hours are also spent loading and unloading and waiting……and waiting……and even more waiting.

Rumor has it that KBR has been contacting current and former truck drivers  in Iraq about a pending arbitration against them in San Fransisco in which drivers are claiming they were forced to work “off the clock”. KBR has been trying to get drivers to help them by asking them to sign declarations or sworn statements they recorded all their hours they worked as drivers in Iraq.  If you or anyone you know has been contacted by KBR in the last couple months and asked or “encouraged” to sign anything about hours worked I would like to hear from you. Either leave a comment or email me.

Ms Sparky

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

US Gov contractors have 20 days to get those illegal workers out of Iraq!

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 25, 2010

According to a recent memo to ALL CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ from COL Nolan of the Centcom Contracting Command, ALL contractors in Iraq have 20 days to repatriate (send home) third country nationals who’s countries prohibit travel to Iraq. This includes among others, the Philippines and Nepal.

OMG!! This will affect virtually every service KBR provides the DoD in Iraq. I would guess there are 1000′s of Filipino workers who work in the Dining Facilities (DFAC’s), in the Laundries, drive trucks and shuttle buses, craftspeople and laborers. I would suspect there are direct hire Filipinos as well as Filipinos who work for KBR subcontractors such as PPI and Serka who were evidently smuggled in most likely from countries like Jordan or Turkey.

I hope the DCMA will write Corrective Action Requests (CARs) if services suffer. KBR as well as every other contractor in Iraq had to know about the Iraq travel restrictions of the Filipinos. It only made sense the the Filipinos were being smuggled in therefore violating Philippine and Iraqi law.

This will take definitely put a kink in the illicit sex trafficking and trade in Iraq…..for a little while anyway. And I do hope these contractors don’t just dump these workers on the border somewhere and leave them like they have been leaving them stranded in Iraq.

On a positive note, in the midst of a huge Reduction In Force in Iraq, it may make room for more Americans to stay and work on DoD contracts.

I don’t want to be unappreciative of what appears to be very strong action on the part of the DoD, but I do have to ask….”What took you so long?”  Original at MsSparky

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Ms. Sparky aims at KBR, electrifies war-contractor scrutiny with blog

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on July 12, 2010

Debbie Crawford was playing with her grandson at her Battle Ground home two years ago when she heard a news report on a Green Beret who died in Baghdad. The water pump in his Army shower was not properly grounded, and when he turned the faucet, a jolt of electricity killed him.

Crawford cried, her worst professional fear realized. She went to her laptop and began to type:

“As a licensed electrician who worked for KBR in Iraq for two years, I find this UNACCEPTABLE!!!! How did this happen? Let me give you my opinion from first-hand experience….”

Five weeks later, after a Senate staffer saw her post, Crawford testified before Congress to poor management and poor workmanship by Kellogg, Brown & Root in Iraq, including subcontracting electrical work to locals not skilled to U.S. standards and failing to check electricians credentials.  Read the entire story here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Dyncorp, KBR, Political Watch, Triple Canopy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In desperation KBR attorneys attempted to “encourage” Army to reconsider

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 4, 2010

June 2, 2010 — Ms Sparky

On February 23, 2010 the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge sent a letter to the Army on behalf of their client KBR. The letter was entitled:

Re:  Request for Reconsideration of Denial of Use of LGEN (Ret.) Ricardo S. Sanchez as Expert Witness

Apparently the Army’s recent decision to not allow LGEN (Ret.) Ricardo S. Sanchez to supply expert testimony on KBR’s behalf didn’t sit well.

I first blogged about LGEN Sanchez testimony in March but didn’t have the letter at that time. I have it now and am disturbed at the sheer level of arrogance of KBR’s attorneys.

I am not going reprint the entire three page letter in this post. If you want to read it in it’s entirety click HERE. I am going to highlight what I consider to be the most disturbing and desperate statements in the letter followed by my Ms Sparky (snarky) interpretation.

Read this post at MsSparky’s

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, KBR, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Private Military Contractors and Sex Crimes

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 21, 2010

“The crime that dare not speak it’s name”

By David Isenberg at the Huff Post

On April 16 the Department of Defense Inspector General released a report that nobody has been talking about. Allow me to be the first. Perhaps we should subtitle it the crime that dare not speak its name, as it deals with a topic that most private military contractors (PMC) generally don’t talk about publicly.

The title of the report is “Efforts to Prevent Sexual Assault/Harassment Involving DOD Contractors During Contingency Operations.” .

My first thought is how is it that some contractors can’t seem to keep it in their pants?

This is an issue that seems to keep happening over the years; from the days when DynCorp contractors were involved in a sex trafficking scandal in Bosnia when employees and supervisors engaged in sex with 12 to 15 year old children, and sold them to each other as slaves to the gang-rape of Jamie Leigh Jones a former KBR employee who claimed that seven KBR employees drugged and gang-raped her on July 28, 2005 at Camp Hope, Baghdad, Iraq.

For those who like to dismiss such things as isolated occurrences just head on over to the “Rape, Hazing, Discrimination & Harassment” section of Ms, Sparky’s blog and you will be promptly disabused of such a notion.

In fact the situation is serious enough that the sexual assault of employees of U.S. military contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan will be tracked by the Pentagon under a system it is setting up.

Please read the entire story at David’s blog at the Huffington Post

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Labor, Exclusive Remedy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

KBR’s Idle Hands in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 25, 2010

The megacontractor’s been making millions from mechanics who put in as little as 43 minutes a month. And as more GIs come home, the waste could get even worse.

By Adam Weinstein -Copy Editor – MotherJones.com
Thu Mar. 25, 2010 4:30 AM PDT

It was just a single contract for a single job on a single base in Iraq. The Department of Defense agreed to pay the megacontractor KBR $5 million a year to repair tactical vehicles, from Humvees to big rigs, at Joint Base Balad, a large airfield and supply center north of Baghdad. Yet according to a new Pentagon report [PDF], what the military got was as many as 144 civilian mechanics, each doing as little as 43 minutes of work a month, with virtually no oversight. The report, issued March 3 by the DOD’s inspector general, found that between late 2008 and mid-2009, KBR performed less than 7 percent of the work it was expected to do, but still got paid in full.

The $4.6 million blown on this particular contract is a relatively small loss considering that in 2009 alone, the government had a blanket deal worth $5 billion with KBR (formerly known as the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root). Just days before the Pentagon released the Balad report, KBR announced it had won a new $2.3 billion-plus, five-year Iraq contract. But the inspector general’s modest investigation offers new insight into just how little KBR delivers and how toothless the Pentagon is to prevent contractor waste. Moreover, the government’s own auditors predict that as the military draws down its forces in Iraq, KBR will keep most of its workforce intact, enabling it to collect $190 million or more in unnecessary expenses. Much of any “peace dividend” from the war’s gradual end—potentially hundreds of billions of dollars—could wind up in the hands of contractors.

On March 29, the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting—which Congress set up in early 2007 to investigate waste and corruption in the military private sector—will hold a hearing to examine whether contractors are doing their part to prepare for leaving Iraq. Some commissioners are raring for a showdown with KBR over its drawdown plan—or lack thereof. The commission’s co-chair, former Republican congressman Christopher H. Shays, said in a statement: “Considering that KBR was just awarded a task order—now under protest—that could bring them up to $2.3 billion in new [Iraq-related] revenues, it’s very important that we get a clear picture of the quality of planning and oversight during the Iraq drawdown.”

The Balad report is likely to be a hot potato at the hearing. Commissioner Charles Tiefer tells Mother Jones the report is a “dynamite critique” of the firm’s practices. “The numbers translate into an astonishingly large pool of KBR employees standing around idle and having the government be charged,” he says.

What the DOD investigators found in Balad was astounding. Army rules require that its civilian maintenance employees are actively working 85 to 90 percent of the time they are on the clock. Yet KBR’s own records showed that its workers were only engaged in labor an average of 6.6 percent of the time they were on duty. The DOD ran its own numbers, and its findings were even worse. In September 2008, for example, KBR had 144 maintenance employees at Balad, available to work 16,200 hours. Their actual “utilization rate” was a paltry 0.63 percent—which means that each of the 144 KBR employees averaged about 43 minutes of work for the entire month.

How did such a large bunch of thumb-twiddling mechanics go unnoticed? The Pentagon investigators found that the Army had no system in place to police how much work its contractors were actually doing. Plus, the unit in charge of KBR’s operation at Balad reported that the contractor wouldn’t reveal how many mechanics it employed there “because it believed the information was proprietary.” The investigators (who eventually got the KBR data) note that as of last August, the number of KBR mechanics at Balad has since dropped to 75, but they conclude diplomatically that “opportunities for additional reductions of tactical vehicle field maintenance services at [Balad] may exist, which may provide additional cost savings to DOD.” In other words, the Army should consider sending even more contractors home.

Some in the military appear to accept such waste as a matter of course. Col. Gust Pagonis, an assistant chief of staff for the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, which took over command of Balad last August, responded to the DOD inspector general by explaining that “the contracting of maintenance capabilities, though not efficient, was effective in ensuring units did not experience low readiness rates and being able to perform the mission.” Translation: The KBR contractors were essentially being kept around on reserve, just in case. Tiefer doesn’t buy that argument. “That might justify a limited overcapacity, but nothing approaching KBR’s levels,” he says.

As the military draws down its own numbers in Iraq, that “just in case” fleet shows few signs of going home. By this August, all US combat personnel are slated to be out of Iraq, leaving a force of about 50,000 “combat support” troops. Yet if the DOD’s own optimistic estimates are accurate, there will still be 75,000 contractors in Iraq at the end of summer—or 1.5 contractors for every soldier. KBR had 17,095 employees in Iraq as of last September, but when its subcontractors are included, it oversees as many as 58,000 workers. The firm has promised to reduce its staff in Iraq by 5 percent each quarter, but that may not be fast enough. Last November, April G. Stephenson, the then-head of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), testified to the contracting commission that KBR could cost the government another $193 million in unnecessary manpower between then and the August 2010 withdrawal date for combat forces. “When the military reduced its troop levels from 160,000 to 130,000—a 19 percent reduction—KBR’s staffing levels remained constant,” she told the commission, adding that KBR had so far refused to share “a detailed, written plan to reduce staffing levels in consonance with the military drawdown.”

She added that the $193 million estimate was “conservative”; if KBR fails to meet its withdrawal goals, the price tag could balloon by hundreds of millions more. “The drawdown in Iraq and these Iraq task orders are going to become a deep pocket for these contractors,” she told the panel. In light of the Balad report, Tiefer cautiously agrees. “If KBR has underutilized rates in many of its operations anywhere near the rates found by the inspector general study…that would support a search for savings on the order of $300 million,” he says.

KBR rejects those assertions. The company has “been working since last year with these organizations in responsibly planning our support to the drawdown of military forces in Iraq,” writes company spokeswoman Heather Browne in an email to Mother Jones.

Federal bean counters are concerned with more than just KBR’s inflated contracts. In fiscal 2009 alone, the DCAA identified $20.4 billion in questionable billing, and another $12.1 billion in unsupported cost estimates, by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Together, that’s more money than any individual handout to the biggest beneficiaries of the financial bailout.

In October, the Pentagon transferred Stephenson to its payroll department. That move came after the Government Accountability Office complained about auditing irregularities on Stephenson’s watch. GAO even alleged that some DCAA reports had been modified to favor contractors—which suggests that the companies’ waste in Iraq and Afghanistan may be even worse than already known. (Stephenson could not be reached for comment.) But even before her demotion, Stephenson’s agency had little leverage with contractors. All the DCAA can do is make recommendations to an alphabet soup of other Pentagon bureaucracies that routinely insist that contracts and regulations prevent them from playing hardball with contractors and their paychecks. At the November hearing, Shays, the co-chair of the contracting commission, chastised a Defense Contract Management Agency representative for failing to withhold any payments to contractors—even after the DCAA had expressed doubts about the amounts the contractors were charging. “It is simply outrageous that DCMA did not respond to DCAA’s findings and have any withholds,” Shays said. “And it was unfortunate that DCAA did not have a way to see that resolved.”

The DOD’s inertia on contractor accountability is so complete that its agencies can’t say with any certainty how many contractors are currently in Iraq and Afghanistan. One April 2009 estimate put the number at 160,000; a separate DOD study a month earlier said it was 240,000. The dysfunction has angered some Iraq War hawks, like Shays and contracting commission member Dov Zakheim—a Bush-era undersecretary of defense who helped manage the war’s initial finances. Zakheim upbraided several Pentagon officials in that November hearing for not keeping contractors accountable. “We’ve been at war for eight years in Afghanistan, long enough for me to actually start forgetting about what it was like at the beginning, when I was there,” he said. “Eight years in Afghanistan, and we haven’t resolved something like this, which I would have thought is absolutely critical.”

But KBR will be in the hot seat at next week’s hearing—and on the heels of the Balad report, that seat’s now likely to be a lot hotter. “We’re hoping to find out at this hearing how much progress KBR has made toward a viable drawdown plan with realistic assumptions,” Tiefer says, adding: “I’m personally hoping to receive suggestions for how to reform monopoly cost-plus contracts like KBR’s.” Company spokeswoman Browne says KBR is ready to state its case, and is in the process of drafting a response to the inspector general’s report.

For now, however, it’s hard to see what the commission or the federal government can do to derail the KBR gravy train. Bases across Iraq remain dependent on the firm’s contractors, and that dependency is only likely to increase as more troops come home. “In essence…we basically said that KBR is too big to fail,” Shays said last May. “So we are still going to fund them.” (click HERE for the original

See this at MsSparkys with the commments

See also by Gordon Duff at Veterans Today

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MSM Finally makes an appearance on KBR’s $2.8 Billion Logcap Win

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 2, 2010

Update:  KBR’s Press Release on LOGCAP IV Task Order 2

By KIMBERLY HEFLING and RICHARD LARDNER (AP) – 51 minutes ago

WASHINGTON — Military authorities say defense giant KBR Inc. has been awarded a contract potentially worth $2.8 billion for work in Iraq as U.S. forces continue to leave the country.

KBR was notified of the award Friday, a day after the company told shareholders it lost about $25 million in award fees because of flawed electrical work in Iraq.

The Houston-based company was charged with maintaining the barracks where a Green Beret was electrocuted in 2008 while showering. The company has denied wrongdoing. But the uproar that followed triggered a review of 17 other electrocution deaths in Iraq and widespread inspections of electrical work in Iraq, much of it performed by KBR.

An Army spokesman said Tuesday that the contract is for one year, with an option for four more.

KBR awarded $2.3B LOGCAP IV task order in Iraq after poor performance evaluation

KBR awarded $2.3B LOGCAP IV task order in Iraq after poor performance evaluation (updated 02/28/2010)

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KBR awarded $2.3B LOGCAP IV task order in Iraq after poor performance evaluation

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 27, 2010

February 27, 2010 — Ms Sparky

The long awaited announcement of the first LOGCAP IV task order to be awarded in Iraq has been made.

KBR has been awarded Task Order 2 under KBR’s LOGCAP IV contract W52P1J-07-D-0009 for the Iraq CTP (Corp Logistics/Transportation/Postal) effort in the amount of $2.345B.

Work is to begin under this Task Order on March 1, 2010.

Interesting…just four days ago KBR received a ZERO award fee for unsatisfactory work and is now awarded a $2.3B contract. Is anyone else gong “What the hell?”

For a list of other LOGCAP IV Task Order awards click HERE

Here is the all hands email that KBR just sent out to their employees.

From: Timmy Doster
Sent: Saturday, February 27, 2010 11:04 AM

To: DL_KBR LOGCAP III All Hands ME

Subject: KBR Awarded LOGCAP IV CTP Task Order

TO: LOGCAP III Middle East Employees

FROM: Guy LaBoa, Principal Program Manager, LOGCAP III ME

SUBJECT: KBR Awarded LOGCAP IV CTP Task Order

With so much negative news about KBR and the fact that we have not won a LOGCAP IV task order, it is with great pride that I am able to announce that KBR is now in the LOGCAP IV business. Last night, the U.S. government announced it has awarded KBR the $2.3 billion, cost-plus, fixed-fee CTP contract. This contract support is for Corps Logistics Support Services (CLSS), Theater Transportation Mission (TTM), Postal Services, Ice Plant Operations, and some Air Terminal Operations to support the U.S. armed forces throughout Iraq.

Being awarded a LOGCAP IV task order has been a long time coming; however, we have unquestionably achieved this milestone, and as a result, we all look forward to KBR awards on future task orders, including the base life support mission in Iraq. We will publish more on the CTP transition as the plan is finalized.

I ask that all of you continue doing what you do best – supporting our men and women in uniform. I ask that you carry on this mission with your continued emphasis on “Excellence in Quality” and “your uncompromising commitment to Safety”.

WE DELIVER!

Guy

Guy LaBoa
Principal Program Manager
LOGCAP III ME/CA
FI – ID 43382
APO, AE 09344
Office: (281) 669-5600

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