THE BLOG
07/08/2010 11:31 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The GAO Transcripts, Part 9: Tracking the Unknown Unknowns

This is the ninth installment of the Government Accountability Office interview transcripts that were prepared pursuant to the July 2005 GAO report "Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed To Improve Use of Private Security Providers."

Contrary to header information (Title and Purpose lines) in below transcript the GAO interviewers were actually talking about the role of the PCO (Program and Contracting Office) in managing private security contractors in Iraq.

As former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld memorably put it back in a February 12, 2002 press briefing, "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don't know."

As one reads this transcript one realizes that military officials knew there were lots of things they did not know, such as keeping track of private contractors or having any information on subcontracts. Back then they had, zero, zip, zilch, nada,... on subcontracts. Nearly 6 years later the situation is not a whole lot better.

Standard disclaimer: I have put in ( _____ ) to reflect those words of phrases which have been blacked out in the transcript. I have also put in the underlining as it appeared in the original transcript. As in the transcript, I have left out letters from various words, even when it seems obvious what the word is.

Prepared by: Kate Walker Index: Type bundle index here
Date Prepared: October 27, 2004 DOC Number: Type document number here
Reviewed by: Type reviewer name here DOC Library. Type library name here
Job Code: 350544

Record of Interview

Title Meeting with the CPO
Purpose To learn about CPO's role in managing PSCs in Iraq
Contact Method Face-to-face
Contact Place Pentagon
Contact Date August 27, 2004
Participants _____________________________________________
_____________________________________________
_____________________________________________
Dave Grover, ASM, GAO
Tim Wilson, ASM, GAO
Carole Coffee, DCM, GAO
Kate Walker, DCM, GAO

Comments/Remarks:

We met with _______________and _______________to discuss the role of PCO in organizing and coordinating contractors in Iraq. _______________ works for the _______________and is located at the Pentagon. _______________ _______________has recently returned from Iraq where he dealt directly with private security contractors.

CONTRACTOR TRACKING IN IRAQ
According to _______________the PCO does not have any information on subcontracts nor do they have anyone collecting information on subcontracts. _______________ believes that part of the problem is that the PCO does not have enough contracting officers to perform all of the necessary administrative tasks. With regard to communication with private security contractors (PSCs) in Iraq
_______________ was only aware of an informal weekly meeting lead by ERMO advisors and hosted by the PCO. The PCO would occasionally bring in Iraqi officials to address the PSCs at these meetings.

_______________ said that the only way to collect information on PSC entering Iraq would be to track them as they deployed through Kuwait. In theory, these contractors are supposed to register with the MOI as they enter the country, but in reality they rarely do. The USG only has cognizance of those contractors deploying through Kuwait of Ft. Belvedere. In order to pass through Ft. Belvedere or any official USG deployment center, contractors must have a common access card (CAC). CAC cards are given to civilians, military, and contractors. Thus, if contractors pass through a USG deployment center, they would have to apply for CAC cards and from this information the military could glean a list of contractors in Iraq. This list would not be comprehensive, however.

The following part of the write-up covers our discussion was with _______________
_________

TYPES OF SECURITY IN IRAQ
Currently, there are four types of security in Iraq:
1. Convoy security--typically preformed by civilian military

Page 1 Record of Interview

2. Site security--provided by a number of different sources including: private security contractors (such as _______________ home country nationals (HCNs)/Iraqi people, third country nationals (TCN), and the military
3. Military security--overarching security services
4. Personal security--private security detail (PSD) contracted by private security companies for either contractors, DOS and other government agencies

CONTRACTS N IRAQ
_______________ aware of several contracts in Iraq.
o Currently there are nine primes working for the PCO. The PCO provides these primes with bodyguards, a living area, site and convoy security. The PCO does not, however, provide these primes with life support.
o DOS has PSD through a contract with _______________
o PCO has PSD, site, and some convoy security through _______________addition _______________ contracts for personal security while the remaining 20% is split with 10% on the operations center and 10% on site and convoy security. _______________ operations center will only be responsible for collecting intelligence and movement logistics. They will not be responsible for making decisions regarding alternate routes or coordination with the military. Currently, only three people are working in the operations center.
o _______________ on the RIO contract has the _______________ providing its security. _______________ living quarters at Basra and from this base camp works at sites within 100 miles in southern Iraq. The _______________ escorts _______________these sites.
o _______________ also gave us the most recent list of PSCs that he has from the PCO.

STAGING SITES IN IRAQ
Currently there are two staging sites for Iraq: Abu Gareb and Umkasar. Two sites will open later in Mosul and Assud. MNFI could not provide security for these sites so PCO now contracts out for security of these sites. MNFI only does military work. Military have too much on their plate. Military have a different definition of security. QRF not good enough. The military doesn't know how to prioritize.

MISCELLANEOUS COMMENTS
o The North does not have as much control as the south.
o Sector PMOs only give project management support. For example, they help schedule, task orders, manage construction, and handle the logistics and finances of the contract.
o While DOD owns the contracts, the Army just oversees them.
o _______________ s unaware of any crimes being committed by contractors or any DOS policy letters dealing with contractors.
o _______________ reports that transportation into Iraq has proved difficult. They have had a hard time getting people overseas.

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