By Ellen McCarthy Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 17, 2004; Page E01
The government contract that led interrogators working for CACI International Inc. into Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was awarded in 1998, with the stated purpose of providing inventory control and other routine services to the U.S. Army.
This kind of "blanket-purchase agreement" is becoming increasingly popular with federal agencies because it is supposed to increase efficiency. Large, vaguely worded contracts are designed so the agencies can make quick requests and get fast results, without requiring separate bids and evaluations for each service. Critics say these open-ended contracts allow agencies to skirt public oversight and give big companies an unfair advantage in winning government business.
The CACI contract with the Army is administered by the Interior Department, under an outsourcing agreement with the Army, which has made it even harder to track.
The CACI contract has a $500 million limit, said Frank Quimby, a spokesman for the Interior Department. CACI has received 80 requests, or delivery orders, from the Army under this contract. Most requests are for CACI's meat-and-potatoes offerings, such as information technology services, but 11 of the delivery orders were for projects in Iraq. Three of those dealt with interrogation and intelligence gathering.
One order, issued in August 2003, was worth $19.9 million for a year-long stint of interrogation support, Quimby said. It is under that order that CACI's Steven A. Stefanowicz and other contractors worked as interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. An Army report on abuses at the prison accuses Stefanowicz of encouraging soldiers to "set conditions" for interrogations. The company has not identified Stefanowicz as the employee in question and declined to comment on the details of its contract with the Army.
"If they want to provide information to the media, that's the business of the United States government, that's not the business of CACI," J.P. London, CACI's chairman and chief executive, said in an interview last week. Stefanowicz's lawyer has said that his client did nothing wrong at the prison.
The interrogator request specified that CACI's subsidiary, CACI Premier Technology Inc., provide "intelligence advisors and data base entry-intelligence research clerks." These positions, the delivery order said, "require specific intelligence and technical expertise."
That same month the Army said it would pay CACI $3.2 million to help screen Iraqis for access to U.S. military bases. That year-long project includes "gathering and recording intelligence information electronically, and providing analysts with computer generated intelligence information."
In December 2003, CACI landed a $21.8 million request to help the Army complete "counter intelligence missions at secure and fixed locations." Quimby said all three of the delivery orders were requested by Combined Joint Task Force-7, which is responsible for securing Iraq.
Because CACI had a lock on all of these contracts, none of the requests were announced to the public.