Wednesday 19th of June 2024

KBR-Getting Rich Off The War

This reporrt just out on USA Today is well worth reading:

Government auditors discovered something odd last year when they reviewed KBR Inc.'s annual cost estimate to provide support services for U.S. troops in Iraq. The contractor proposed charging $110 million for housing, food, water, laundry and other services on bases that had been shut down.

KBR got a contract extension for $3.7 billion, but it agreed to drop the proposed $110 million spending on closed bases and an additional $50 million of duplicate charges and math errors, according to Defense Department records obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.


IRAQ: Pentagon approves disputed costs

Linda Theis of the Army Sustainment Command, the agency that oversees KBR's troop-support contract, downplayed the errors. They amount to just 4.3% of the contract amount, she said. "This percentage does not indicate a systemic weakness in business systems."

The errors occurred because KBR developed the proposal under a tight schedule, said company spokeswoman Heather Browne. The contract-review process, she said, worked as intended.

By far the largest government contractor in Iraq, KBR has been paid more than $20.1 billion through last October — about half of all government spending on contracts in Iraq, mostly under a multiyear Army contract to provide logistical support for U.S. troops. The company also has contracts to help rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) has challenged nearly $2.2 billion of KBR's invoices and cost proposals. The Army has resolved nearly $1.3 billion of those questioned costs, paying KBR only $804 million, records show.

That 38% withholding rate is about average for Iraq contracts but well below the Pentagon's overall rate, which ranges from 56% to 75%. The DCAA calculated the amount of KBR's questioned and withheld costs at the request of the House Oversight Committee. It does not track such information for other contractors.

Congressional and government investigators, such as the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, have accused KBR of mismanagement and overspending. Four former KBR managers have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges for taking bribes and kickbacks from subcontractors on the logistics contract.


RELATED: Halliburton will move headquarters from Houston to Dubai

KBR was a subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton until the companies split late last year. Congressional Democrats, such as Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, have suggested the company got special treatment in part because Vice President Cheney headed Halliburton for the five years before the 2000 election. Both the Bush administration and Halliburton have denied those allegations.

The Pentagon needs to crack down on KBR and other contractors, said Dorgan, head of the Democratic Policy Committee. "It requires a change in mind-set at the Pentagon, for them to slam their fist down on the table and say, 'We're not going to put up with this anymore.' "

Theis said that over the past several years, KBR has improved its business systems, which were "severely challenged" during the initial months after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Browne said the company worked with contract managers to satisfy auditors' concerns.

"We have fully cooperated by providing information requested of us to resolve those issues," she said.

Other KBR problems flagged by auditors included:

•More than $57 million in questionable spending for shipping containers outfitted as housing for U.S. troops. In a statement submitted to the House Oversight Committee for a meeting in February, the DCAA said its auditors found KBR charged double for some handling costs, sought payment for "unjustified delays," and "selectively used higher-priced subcontractors without justification." The Army has paid $27 million of the disputed amount, records show. An additional $29.9 million on that contract remains in dispute, Theis said.

•About $212 million in overcharges for meal service, including for meals never served to troops. The Army settled the matter with KBR by withholding $55 million of the disputed amount.

•Weaknesses in most KBR business processes, including accounting, purchasing, estimating and billing. KBR has worked to correct the problems, and its internal systems have been rated as "acceptable" since April, four years after KBR first started work in Iraq, Theis said.


the usual suspects .....

‘Federal investigators have uncovered what they describe as a sweeping network of kickbacks, bribes and fraud involving at least eight employees and subcontractors of KBR, the former Halliburton subsidiary, in a scheme to inflate charges for flying freight into Iraq in support of the war, according to court papers unsealed yesterday.

The latest conviction in the cases related to the scheme came yesterday, when a former Houston-based executive for an airfreight carrier hired by KBR pleaded guilty in federal district court to dispensing bribes and then lying to federal investigators. The executive, Kevin Andre Smoot, 43, of The Woodlands, Tex., served as a managing director for Eagle Global Logistics Incorporated, a carrier that received a subcontract from KBR to ship the freight.’

Bribery Network To Bloat War Costs Is Alleged