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, 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, 2010 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 Just days before the Pentagon released the Balad report, KBR announced it had won a new $2.3 billion-plus, five-year Iraq contract.
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.
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.”
Federal auditors are concerned with more than just KBR’s inflated contracts. In fiscal 2009 alone, the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA)identified $20.4 billion in questionable billing, and another $12.1 billion in unsupported cost estimates, by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Title: KBR Bills $5 Million For Mechanics Who Work 43 Minutes a Month
Source: Mother Jones, March 25, 2010
Author: Adam Weinstein
Sonoma State University
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