Posts Tagged IG

Publications: IG Review Of Best Value Contracting For DoS Local Guard Programs

After reading the latest report on the Benghazi attack called Flashing Red: A Special Report On The Terrorist Attack At Benghazi, I came across another really cool report they referenced in regards to Best Value contracting. I thought it was pretty interesting and worthy of some attention here.

Here is the quote about it from the Benghazi report.

Though a few members of the February 17 Brigade and the Libya Shield militia assisted the Americans on the night of the attack, the security that these militias and the local police provided to U.S. personnel was woefully inadequate to the dangerous security environment in Benghazi.
The unarmed local contract guards also provided no meaningful resistance to the attackers. The Department of State’s Inspector General had previously found that concerns about local security guards were not limited to Libya. A February 2012 Department of State Inspector General (IG) report found that more than two-thirds of 86 diplomatic posts around the world surveyed reported problems with their local guard contractors. Of those posts that reported problems with their contractors, 37 percent said there was an insufficient number of local guards and 40 percent said there was insufficient training. The IG found that overseas diplomatic posts, particularly those in high-threat situations beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan urgently needed best-value contracting, which takes into account the past performance of contractors.
Recommendation: When it becomes clear that a host nation cannot adequately perform its functions under the Vienna Convention, the Department of State must provide additional security measures of its own, urgently attempt to upgrade the host nation security forces, or decide to close a U.S. Diplomatic facility and remove U.S. personnel until appropriate steps can be taken to provide adequate security. American personnel who serve us abroad must often work in high risk environments, but when they do, we must provide them with adequate security. That clearly was not the case in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Recommendation: The Department must conduct a review of its local guard programs and particularly the use of local guard contractors at high-risk posts who do not meet appropriate standards necessary for the protection of our personnel or facilities.

Did you read that highlight? Urgently needed Best Value contracting….. and this is the IG saying this. lol Myself and others have been promoting the concept for awhile now and at least the IG get’s it. It sounds like DoS is starting to see the light as well.

The one interesting point that was discussed is the 10 percent price preference rule and how local guard force companies were just partnering with US companies in order to qualify. Here is a quote:

U.S. companies or qualified joint ventures “shall be evaluated by reducing the bid by 10 percent.” Based on an examination of contract competition documents for 35 local guard contracts, OIG found that the 10 percent price preference given to qualifying U.S. companies had no effect on the outcome of the awards. OIG further determined that it is easy for foreign companies wishing to take advantage of the price preference to become eligible by simply forming a joint venture with a U.S. company, thus largely negating the purpose of the preference.

So private industry found a loophole and exploited it to win contracts. With that said, I agree with the IG’s take on the 10 percent rule, and that it needs to be changed in order for it to be effective. Here is their suggestion.

Review the need for a 10 percent price preference given to U.S. companies bidding on local guard contracts because the preference has not been demonstrated to be a factor in recent local guard competitions.

Check it out below and it will be located in my Scribd or here on the blog for future reference. -Matt

 

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Jundism: War Zone Corruption Allegations Up Sharply

     In Iraq, investigators have opened 67 fraud cases this year, compared with 69 for all of 2009, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). In Afghanistan, it’s 42 cases this year vs. four last year.

     Stuart Bowen, who heads SIGIR, says more tipsters are coming forward. “Some of these people have come back to the States, so they’re out of the threat zone,” he says. “Perhaps what they saw is gnawing at their conscience.” 

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     To me, this is great news.  It indicates to me that there is finally a connection between the guy on the ground and the folks tasked with investigating this stuff. That means guys and gals are talking and sending in tips because ‘they have the courage to do what is right‘ and the IG is acting on it. So bravo to you folks out there that are sticking it to these shady people and companies that think they can get away with this stuff.

     It also indicates that there are finally more investigators out there to actually investigate these tips.(contractors have been submitting stuff for awhile now) Although the government and tax payers would have been better served if they would have focused on this in the beginning of the war. Arguably, things would have been less screwed up if they had this manpower in the first place and it is a shame it has gone on this long like it has. The lesson to me, is you must have the necessary manpower and sound leadership in place to expand and contract with the dollars/stuff/people going in and out of war zones. Flexible and scaleable oversight is crucial. This kind of oversight is necessary not only for ensuring the tax payer gets a good value for their money, but that the actions of contractors or military folks does not negatively impact the war time strategy with their actions.

     That last part I cannot stress enough.  With today’s 24/7 media, the internet, blogs, cameras in smart phones, social media, etc., it is almost impossible to operate out of the public’s view. That means when a company screws up or does something it should not have done, the whole world ends up finding out about it.  And then whatever program and strategy that company was a part of in the war, is now threatened by that company who chose the wrong path. That is unacceptable in my view.

     Plus, I just love seeing shady companies/managers/individuals who screw over their fellow contractors or the government, get the heat. So keep sending in those tips to the IG, because what you have to say matters. It is an easy way to keep a company honest and on their toes. And maybe, just maybe, companies will actually start listening to their people and taking care of these problems or wrongdoing before they make their way to Youtube or the desk of the IG.

     Now one tip that I would like to present to the IG, if any of those guys are listening, is that you should also make an effort to connect with the ‘non-english’ writing, or computer illiterate contractors.  An Iraqi or Afghani contractor should have the means of connecting with you, because those folks see all sorts of wrong doings within their companies. The hordes of TCN’s from all over the world who are working on the bases, are in the same boat as well, and there should be an effort to reach out to them.  Perhaps a multi-language tip submit program involving anonymous call ins could be implemented there, because speaking a grievance would probably be better than them writing it.  Plus they could do it anonymously from the convenience of their phone. Interpreters could then translate the message and investigators can go from there.

     Also, there needs to be some pressure on the companies involved with TWISS.  I am getting lots of emails from expats and Ugandans about how screwed up that program is. And because this is an LPTA (lowest price, technically acceptable) program, the companies have all been racing to the bottom to out bid the other guy.  As a result, you have the lowest paid expats in the industry supervising poorly vetted Ugandans or whatever TCN group, and that dynamic does not promote a well running machine.  If anything, expats could care less about doing a good job, and those individuals only look at the job as a stepping stone to go onto something else. Most contractors involved with TWISS that I have talked with couldn’t wait to get out of that contract.

     LPTA does not work, it is a race to the bottom, and eventually LPTA is going to hurt the wartime strategy. The vetting of TCN guard forces like Ugandans is poor as well, and I place the blame on companies who are more concerned with cutting costs to outbid the other guy. They will say things like ‘that was the job of the training company we use in Uganda, and we had no part in that’ or ‘well company X in Uganda said they were good to go’.  Pffft. Meanwhile they man posts in Iraq with folks who are ill or cannot shoot a weapon or whatever, all because the vetting process is ‘technically acceptable’ and ‘lowest cost’. And why would US companies spend the money on this if they didn’t have to?

     It is a ‘race to the bottom’, and the government thinks this is a good idea. Wait until a poorly supervised or poorly vetted Ugandan kills some civilian or soldier, or fails at performing the duties of their post? That is not to say that there are not squared away expats or Ugandans in this program. But it is the program itself and the contracting vehicle that supports it, lends itself to such a screwed up set of circumstances. If the IG wanted a program to investigate, TWISS and the pathetic results of LPTA would be a good one to focus on. -Matt

Edit: 06/21/2010 -Doug Wethington from DCIS just responded in the comments below, and I wanted to put his information in an edit. Here is the important part:

I can also tell you we activity seek “non-English” sources of information for the reasons you site. We know these folks have valuable information and we try diligently to get the word out that we are interested in hearing what they have to say. I welcome any suggestions that will assist us with those efforts. We also welcome email tips, in whatever language, to:   icctf@iraq.centcom.mil

Forgot to add, the only phone number we currently have where a recording could be left and tranlation accomplished is the Defense hotline at 800-424-9098. I will take your suggestion and see if we can get a dedicated line with a recorder to receive complaints in country. Thanks for the advise.v/r

Douglas Wethington, Regional Director of Investigations, DCIS

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War zone corruption allegations up sharply 

By Aamer Madhani

June 17, 2010

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government, which is pressing Iraqi and Afghan leaders to get tough on internal corruption, is doing the same in its ranks.

Cases of suspected fraud and other wrongdoing by U.S. troops and contractors overseeing reconstruction and relief projects in Iraq and Afghanistan are up dramatically.

James Burch, the Defense Department’s deputy inspector general for investigations, says his agency is investigating 223 cases — 18% more than a year ago.

Investigators have charged an Army officer with pocketing cash meant to pay Iraqi civilian militiamen, contractors offering an Army officer $1 million for the inside track on a road project in Afghanistan, and three contractors for an alleged conspiracy to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fuel from a U.S. base in Baghdad.

Army Maj. John Cockerham was sentenced in December to 17½ years in prison for accepting $9 million in bribes for contracts to sell water and other supplies to the U.S. military.

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Publications: IG Says SBInet Has Too Many Contractors

     Now I read through the report, and there was no mention of EODT using armed guards to protect the building of these sites, so that was not the ‘inherently governmental’ portion they were talking about.  They were talking about the contractors doing the job of upper level management of CBP, which to me is a no-brainer–no duh that is inherently governmental.  It’s also inherently lazy on the part of the CBP to not draft their own reports for congress to read.

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