In 2010, the Pentagon prepared to award Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, a $1 billion contract for Afghan police training under the Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office.
The contract had nothing to do with counternarcotics or technology; the police were being trained in basic skills such as using weapons and riot control techniques. But by using the CNTPO contract, the Pentagon could avoid holding a new full and open competition.
The Pentagon's decision raised an immediate issue: DynCorp was the incumbent on the contract, which at the time was being handled by the State Department. But the Pentagon, newly in charge of the police training, wanted to use CNTPO, an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract that allows the Defense Department to award work to five pre-qualified companies.
Since DynCorp wasn't among those five companies, it couldn't even compete for the work it was already performing.
That award also came under scrutiny when an investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee revealed that a Blackwater subsidiary called Paravant was involved in, among other abuses, the use of a South Park character's name, Eric Cartman, to sign out for 200 weapons as part of its training for the Afghan National Army.
Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates protesting the imminent award of the police contract to Blackwater under the CNTPO contract. Levin said the committee had evidence of multiple abuses by Blackwater, including that it "may have: used a front company for the contract; made false official statements and misled Department of Defense officials in its proposal documents; misappropriated government weapons and carried weapons without authorization."
In parallel with the Senate investigation, DynCorp, the incumbent on the State Department contract, protested the Blackwater award to the Government Accountability Office, which sided with DynCorp. The CNTPO contract, the GAO said, never should have included police training that wasn't directly related to counteract narcoterrorism. "The Army admits that the Ministry of the Interior and Afghan National Police are primarily involved in counter-insurgency activities," the GAO wrote, in a decision siding with DynCorp. Although the Army argued there was a "nexus" between policing and counter-narcoterrorism, the GAO found the argument specious.