Saturday, June 13, 2009

Commission on Wartime Contracting interim report revelations

The Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) interim report on fraud, waste, and abuse in contracts let by the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan contains a few surprise factoids.

The report, titled "At What Cost: Contingency Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan," states: "According to command officials, 351 U.S. bases now exist in Iraq." The previous closure of some U.S. bases in Iraq indicates the number of bases has been higher.

On June 11, 2009, WMR reported on the links between two companies, with whom slain U.S. Iraq contractor Jim Kitterman had a relationship, and the Philippines. Kitterman had previously worked for Pergerine Development International of Kuwait, a spin-off of Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR)/Halliburton, which had a major gas field operation in the Philippines, and Corporate Training Unlimited (CTU), whose five employees in Baghdad, including the CTU president, were detained by Iraqi authorities in their investigation of the murder of Kitterman in the Green Zone in Baghdad on May 22. CTU operates an advanced weapons range at Clark airbase, where Peregrine is the lead contractor in a $2 billion re-development program that includes providing storage facilities for natural gas from the Halliburton operation. The Clark re-development project is a personal favorite of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is enmeshed in a number of scandals and is trying to re-write the Constitution to allow her to run for another term next year.

The Philippines appears to have become a center for dubious U.S. contractors who are operating in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The CWC report reveals that oversight for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contracts in Afghanistan is run from the USAID office in Manila. The USAID office in Manila is expected to establish a satellite office in Kabul before the end of this year with a staff of merely two employees to oversee USAID contracts in Afghanistan.

A USAID contract oversight office in Baghdad employs seven auditors and two investigators, according to the CWC report.

KBR also continues to support Defense Department operations in southwest Asia. The report states: "KBR, Inc., (formerly Kellogg, Brown, and Root) still provides support services in Southwest Asia under the Army’s single‐award contract (LOGCAP III). The U.S. Army recently awarded a follow‐on contract for its Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) requirements. The new LOGCAP IV contract now has three vendors—KBR, DynCorp International, and Fluor Intercontinental . . ." The report also reveals that there is very little in-country oversight of LOGCAP contracts and points out that "a military officer said he knew of contracts being performed in Afghanistan that were being 'monitored' by CORs [contracting officer's representatives] physically located in the United States."

The CWC report also reveals the number of Defense Department contractors working in southwest Asia: "U.S. Army Central Command’s second‐quarter fiscal year 2009 census reflected 242,657 active DoD contractor personnel in its Southwest Asia area of operations. This total includes 132,610 in Iraq, 68,197 in Afghanistan, and 41,850 in other Southwest Asia locations."

The report also points out that most of the private security companies in Iraq hire as security personnel for forward operating bases (FOBs) third‐country nationals (TCNs) . . . usually hired through labor brokers in countries such as Uganda and Peru."