A newly disclosed Lockheed Martin Corp. contract to provide interrogators to the military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is being rewritten after twice being found improperly awarded.
Interior Department spokesman Frank Quimby said yesterday that the department will redo the contract on a sole source basis because interrogators are already on the job and the contract will expire in January. The General Services Administration determined that the contract had been improperly awarded twice before.
The department will not renew the contract once it expires, Quimby said. "This is not really what Interior's mission is really about," he said. "We're going to get out of the interrogation business."
Bethesda-based Lockheed declined to comment on the details of the contract, which was disclosed yesterday in the Wall Street Journal.
The issue mirrors the controversy surrounding a CACI International Inc. contract to provide interrogators to the military in Iraq, which was spotlighted after an Army investigation identified one of CACI's employees as a suspect in abuse of Iraqi prisoners. The GSA launched an investigation after determining that the work, managed by the Interior Department, was improperly ordered under an information technology contract.
For the Guantanamo work, the GSA awarded Affiliated Computer Systems Inc. a $13.3 million contract in November 2002 on behalf of the Pentagon's Southern Command. Affiliated Computer Systems was later acquired by Lockheed. The contract called for 30 intelligence analysts and 15 to 20 interrogators and strategic de-briefers, said Raul Duany, spokesman for the Southern Command.
The work was originally ordered under a GSA contract for information technology services, then under an engineering services contract with the Interior Department. A GSA review found that it was improper for the work questioning prisoners to be included in an information technology contract, said Mary Alice Johnson, a GSA spokeswoman. When the contract was canceled in late January, Southern Command moved the work to the Interior Department, where it was added to an engineering services contract.
"When the Army came to [Interior], they didn't inform us of the previous experience with GSA," Quimby said. If the agency had known about the canceled contract, it "would have been a warning light" and "there may have been a different determination" about how to handle the work, he said.
The controversy in May surrounding CACI's interrogation contract prompted GSA to review the Lockheed deal again. Once more, the GSA determined the contract had been improperly awarded.
Southern Command is awaiting the Pentagon's guidance on how to proceed after the contract expires, Duany said. "Our understanding is that we have not broken any laws or regulations," he said. "We just looked at the most expeditious way to meet the requirements and do our share in the war on terror and to contribute to intelligence gathering."