KBR Hit With FCA Suit Over ‘Excess’ LOGCAP III Supplies

KBR Hit With FCA Suit Over ‘Excess’ LOGCAP III Supplies

Law360, New York (October 10, 2014, 7:07 PM ET) — Defense contracting giant KBR Inc. has been accused of buying hundreds of millions of dollars of excessive or duplicate supplies that it stockpiled under a massive LOGCAP III logistical support contract for Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a False Claims Act suit unsealed Thursday in Illinois.
According to the complaint unsealed by U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm, KBR and its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root Services Inc. allegedly maintained a fragmented inventory management system for tracking and storing supplies, equipment and materials that allowed KBR to rack up hundreds of millions of dollars of wasteful and excessive purchases on the government’s dime.

The alleged overcharges were made under the massive LOGCAP III contract that KBR snagged from the U.S. Department of Defense in 2001 to provide logistical support to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Through this course of fraud, KBR has billed the government for thousands of purchases of materials it did not need to buy,” the suit said. Continue reading

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KBR Is Turning The Tables On The DCAA

KBR Is Turning The Tables On The DCAA

Law360, New York (October 08, 2014, 10:26 AM ET) —

Dave Nadler %>
Dave Nadler

In recent years, the Defense Contract Audit Agency’s audit In In In recent years, the Defense Contract Audit Agency’s audit practices have become increasingly aggressive, often to the point that it demands unfettered access to all records (even those that are privileged) and interviews employees about potential frauds. Worse yet, these tactics, which have strained relationships with the government contractor community, go well beyond the DCAA’s original mandate of assisting agencies’ evaluation of offerors’ proposals during source selections. The DCAA’s aggressive practices also have significantly increased the audit backload (thus delaying contract close outs), imposed often arbitrary and incorrect contract decrements, and introduced significant uncertainty in the costs and fees that contractors can expect to recover.
Apparently, enough has become enough. KBR Inc. recently sued the government in Delaware federal court under the Federal Torts Claims Act, seeking to recover $12.5 million in legal and administrative fees spent defeating claims arising from an incorrect and allegedly negligent DCAA report. The complaint alleges that the audit is “one example of a larger pattern of professional malpractice to which KBR and other defense contractors have been subjected by DCAA.” KBR further alleges that the agency’s “demonstrably false” conclusions were “intended to pander to an investigating Congressional committee,” “enable the Army to recapture costs incurred by KBR in the performance of the LOGCAP III contract,” and more broadly, to fulfill its role in “a concerted effort by some in the government to avoid the financial, legal, and political consequences of two unpopular wars.” Continue reading

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Global Industry Firms Craft Responses to Ebola Crisis in Africa

Global Industry Firms Craft Responses to Ebola Crisis in Africa

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photo courtesy of U.S. Africa Command
The U.S. Africa Command is assisting in equipment and personnel support in West Africa.

With the deadly Ebola virus spreading in West Africa—and beyond—global industry firms are helping with relief efforts in the region and coping with impacts on projects. The outbreak, which the World Health Organization says has killed some 4,500 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year, threatens growth in the region.

Earlier this month, Fluor Corp. won a $21-million task order under its U.S. Army Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP IV) contract to build temporary facilities in Monrovia, Liberia, for at least 3,000 military personnel who are arriving as part of the U.S. government’s humanitarian mission.

Fluor competed against LOGCAP IV contractors KBR and DynCorp. for the award. The firm has been posting on its website about 100 construction job openings in Liberia, including skilled crafts, engineers and inspectors. Continue reading

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War Contractors Caught Between Troops, Bureaucrats: Judge

War Contractors Caught Between Troops, Bureaucrats: Judge

Law360, New York (September 18, 2014, 3:36 PM ET) — An Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals judge said Thursday that war zone contractors can end up trapped between military demands and the Defense Department’s slow-moving contracting bureaucracy, and that better coordination between civilian and military leaders could avoid the kinds of cost disputes that plague contingency contracts.
Judge Peter D. Ting, who backed KBR Inc. in a dispute over $55 million that KBR had paid for private security protection in Iraq, addressed the legal fallout of war contracting in a Practicing Law Institute panel moderated by McKenna Long & Aldridge partner Sandy Hoe. While the military used to rely on its Quartermaster Corps for provide combat troops with food, fuel, water and other necessities, that work has largely been outsourced to contractors during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Judge Ting said. Continue reading

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Engility Escapes Int’l Law Claims In Serbian Genocide Suit

Engility Escapes Int’l Law Claims In Serbian Genocide Suit

Law360, New York (September 24, 2014, 6:42 PM ET) — An Illinois federal judge on Wednesday tossed most claims in a proposed class action against defense contractor Engility Holdings Inc. over allegations it aided in genocide by Croatian military forces against ethnic Serbs during the 1990s, saying the court didn’t have jurisdiction over the suit’s international law claims.
Five ethnic Serbs alleged that MPRI Inc., which has since become part of Engility, helped Croatian military forces commit genocide, steal property and illegally remove Serbs from their homes in the Krajina region of Croatia during a 1995 military action called Operation Storm, in violation of international law and Illinois and Virginia law.

U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee in a memorandum opinion and order dismissed the international law allegations, saying the Alien Tort Statute and the Class Action Fairness Act didn’t give the court jurisdiction over those claims, while retaining the state law claims alleging conspiracy to commit trespass and conspiracy to commit unlawful conversion of property. Continue reading

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A Verdict on Blackwater

It took far too long, but four former gunslingers with the Blackwater Worldwide security firm have at last been held accountable for the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad in September 2007. It was one of the darkest episodes of America’s long war.

The verdict on Wednesday brings a measure of justice for the innocent victims and their families and offers some assurance that private contractors will not be allowed to operate with impunity in war zones. What it does not do is solve the problem of an American government that is still too dependent on private firms to supplement its military forces during overseas conflicts and is still unable to manage them effectively.

Continue reading

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Four Blackwater Guards Convicted of Killing 14 Unarmed Iraqis

Four Blackwater Guards Convicted of Killing 14 Unarmed Iraqis

More than seven years after an incident that left 14 Iraqi civilians dead and severely strained relations between Baghdad and Washington, a federal jury on Wednesday convicted four former employees of the Blackwater private security firm on murder and manslaughter charges.

Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard were among the Blackwater guards riding in a convoy of armored vehicles through downtown Baghdad in September 2007 who abruptly began firing machine guns and throwing grenades at unarmed Iraqis in a busy traffic circle, killing 14 and wounding at least 17 others. During the trial, the men’s lawyers maintained they were responding to gunfire at Nisour Square and acted in self-defense, while the prosecution said the shootings were unprovoked. Jurors in Washington sided with the government, convicting Slatten of first-degree murder, a charge that carries a life sentence, and the three others of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and using military firearms while committing a felony, which means they each face a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison. All four men are military veterans.

“This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., whose office prosecuted the case, said in a statement. “Seven years ago, these Blackwater contractors unleashed powerful sniper fire, machine guns, and grenade launchers on innocent men, women, and children. Today they were held accountable for that outrageous attack and its devastating consequences for so many Iraqi families.”

The verdict was a long time coming. Continue reading

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Blackwater guilty verdict long overdue


Khalid Mohammed / AP

Despite convictions, accountability gaps remain for security contractors

October 22, 2014 1:30AM ET

Seven years after Blackwater contractors killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and injured 17 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, a federal jury in the District of Columbia convicted one defendant of murder and three others of manslaughter and weapons charges for the bloodbath. The verdict was announced on Wednesday after 27 days of deliberation.

The trial, which began June 11, served as an important test of U.S. willingness to hold its contractors to account. Blackwater was hired by the State Department to provide security for diplomats in Iraq. The carnage served as a flashpoint for Iraqi anger at Blackwater and sparked an international debate about the use of private security contractors.

Iraqis’ demands for justice have been somewhat muted recently by their need for assistance in combating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). But it is precisely the specter of increased U.S. engagement in Iraq and reluctance to put American military boots back on the ground that makes the gaps in accountability all the more urgent to fill. However, it is not simply the individual guards who should answer for this tragedy: Leaders of private security companies and the governments that employ them must also be held to account. Continue reading

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The Future of Blackwater and Other Guns for Hire

The Future of Blackwater and Other Guns for Hire

Paying for a soldier’s health care and retirement pension is far more costly than hiring contractors, even at exorbitant rates.

The number of contractors on the battlefield has steadily grown over the past three decades, since modern mercenaries first made their appearance during the Balkan stabilization and reconstruction operations of the 1990s. Contractors have been employed in the trouble spots of Africa, hired to spray coca crops in Colombia, and finally enlisted in vast numbers to provide security, intelligence, training and other essential services during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2011, private contractors supporting operations in those two countries constituted over 50% of the total force, up from a ratio of 1 contractor for every 50 uniformed personnel in the Balkans. The story of how private military security companies came to play a pivotal role in wartime operations is an important one, and Ann Hagedorn, a former reporter for the Journal, was right to take it on. Continue reading

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Blackwater guards guilty in Baghdad shooting

Blackwater guards guilty in Baghdad shooting
By: Josh Gerstein
October 22, 2014 12:52 PM EDT

After nearly seven weeks of deliberations, a federal jury convicted four ex-Blackwater guards Wednesday in connection with a massacre of Iraqi civilians in a public square in Baghdad in 2007.

The slew of guilty verdicts is a huge victory for the Justice Department, which faced numerous roadblocks in bringing the case to trial, including a botched early investigation by the State Department and the challenges of pursuing a case in the U.S. over events that took place more than 6,000 miles away.

The verdicts also avert the potentially ugly public reaction in Iraq if some or all of the defendants had been acquitted. Anger over a perceived failure to bring the former Blackwater workers to justice could have complicated President Barack Obama’s efforts to boost Iraq’s shaky central government in the fight against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Continue reading

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