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David Isenberg

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The State Department Tells Us How They Really Felt: Part 2

Posted: 02/21/2012 8:43 am

This is the second installment of documentation released to me by the State Department, pursuant to a past FOIA request. For background see Part 1.

The documents are performance assessments of three contractors - Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy - who in past years won task orders awarded under the U.S. State Department's Worldwide Personal Protective Services contract, which organize, set up, deploy and operate contractor protective service details in many different countries.

Although I had requested copies of all 6 month performance assessments for the companies between 2003 and September 2008 I only received 14 documents, and some of those only had cover sheets. So obviously what I have are only scattered glimpses into how State thought its contractors were doing.

What these documents provide is information on how the State Department rated its contractors on criteria such as quality, cost control, business relations, timeliness of performance and customer satisfaction.

Today we look at Dyncorp's work in Pakistan during the November 25, 2009 to July 7, 2010 time period. There is good and bad news for Dyncorp.

The good news is that no DynCorp employee was found guilty of sexual harassment, violence, or trafficking. Well done DynCorp, very well done indeed! Okay, just kidding.

The bad news is that DynCorp did not do a good job. Let us look at the numbers. Performance is rated on a scale from 0 to 5, Low being 0 and High being 5. For this period, in terms of quality, DynCorp received a 2. This helps explain why.

Under Task Order 11 (Pakistan), DynCorp, International (DI) entered into a sub-contract with a Pakistani provider of security services to provide specified services to the Task order. One key requirement of DynCorp's contractual obligation to the Program Office was taken by all licenses and permits required by local law for the operation of specified security services in Pakistan. When the local the sub-contracting company, chose by DI, ultimately proved incapable of providing promised services the task order stopped performing and remains in abeyance to date. Pakistani investigators allege that the local sub-contractor fabricated critical information on weapons permit applications to the host government. This charge has provided Pakistani legal proceedings against the company, cast a shadow on the process of the contract and created an element of suspicion that continues to taint the embassy to this day. The interruption in Task Order Services can be traced to DI's choice of the local sub-contractor and/or DI's oversight of the sub-contractor's performance. In November 2009, DI notified the Program Office of a self-declaration of possible violation of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) legislation to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice. During a December 2009 meeting with the Program Office discussions with DI revealed they had been aware of the possible violations for several months but had chosen to not notify the Department of the fact. Additionally, when DI sent independent Counsel to Pakistan in an attempt to investigate the possible violations, prior to notifying the Department, they specifically opted to misrepresent the reason for their visit to Embassy officials, rather than reveal the possible breach of FPCA regulation. To date, Task Order 11 remains non-performing.

This is probably a good place to mention that DynCorp own Code of Ethics and Business Conduct states that "The Company's policy is to cooperate fully with all Government investigations."

Of course, it also says, "The legal exposure and potential liability associated with the conduct of Government investigations is significant and requires the immediate involvement of the Legal Department. Any employee who becomes aware of an investigation relating to the Company, its employees, contracts, or subcontracts must immediately contact the Legal Department. The Legal Department will coordinate with the Government investigator on all matters pertaining to the Government's inquiry, including requests for interviews and documents."

One wonders how DynCorp's legal department defines full cooperation.

DynCorp is also a member of ISOA, an industry trade group, which also has a Code of Conduct . Part 2.2 says, "Signatories shall, to the extent possible and subject to contractual and legal limitations, be open and forthcoming on the nature of their operations and any conflicts of interest that might reasonably be perceived as influencing their current or potential ventures."

And Part 3 on Transparency states:

3.2. Signatories shall support effective legal accountability to relevant authorities for their actions and the actions of their personnel. Signatories shall proactively address infractions, and to the extent possible and subject to contractual and legal limitations, cooperate with official investigations into allegations of contractual violations and breaches of international humanitarian and human rights laws.

3.3. Signatories shall take legally appropriate action if their personnel engage in unlawful activities. For serious infractions signatories should report such offences to the relevant authorities.

How satisfied was State with DynCorp in its evaluation? The answer is not much. It received a rating of 1.

It is incumbent upon the Program Office to ask the right question, to insist upon a complete answer, to suggest the appropriate course(s) of action and to verify every statement and invoice submitted. Stumbles on two major task orders, which constituted the majority of the business this Program Office had with DI, constitute the majority of this review of the company. Inaccurate or disputed billing has consumed significant time on the part of our invoice review personnel. DCAA Audits of DI business practices have resulted in additional constraints imposed on this Program Office in the review of invoices and contractual agreements.

Bu the ultimate dis would be whether State wants to work with DynCorp in the future.

Considering the totality of the reasons noted above, this Program Office cannot recommend working with DynCorp International. Operational elements of Task Orders 9 and 11 (Irbil and Pakistan) have been of consistently high quality, but interface with the domestic administrative and managerial elements is time-consuming and complicated and requires constant vigilance.

You can read the full evaluation here.


 
 
 

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