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Correction to This Article
Two Dec. 13 articles incorrectly identified Gen. Paul J. Kern as the commander of the Army Materiel Command. Kern relinquished that post in November.
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Changes Behind the Barbed Wire

Thomas C. Greer, a spokesman for Bethesda-based Lockheed, said the company has since reviewed its contract procedures internally. "With our contracting officers, we have asked them to be alert to these issues to ensure that we are abiding by the contracting vehicle in place," Greer said.

CACI's London said his company also has "tweaked" its contract administration. But, he added, the company's clients ultimately decide what work they need done. "We'll do everything we can do to be responsive and follow the rules," he said. "What I'm trying to share with you is that we don't always make the rules or make the calls."

Military officials say that care is now being taken to ensure that civilian workers at Abu Ghraib have proper credentials and that new contract workers are closely observed. (Ceerwan Aziz -- Reuters)

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Fay's report says a possible violation of acquisition regulations occurred when a CACI employee helped write a "statement of work" spelling out the requirements of the interrogator duty before it was awarded to the company. This may have presented a conflict of interest, Fay said.

Such occurrences are far from uncommon, said Angela B. Styles, former administrator for federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, who is now with the Washington law firm Miller & Chevalier.

"It's a violation of procurement integrity," Styles said. But, she added, "it's happening all over the place. . . . The contracting people don't know what they need so they bring in the contractor" to help write the specifications. London noted CACI was not engaged in competitive bidding for the work in Iraq.

Monitoring Performance

When the Fay report was issued, with its graphic descriptions of abuse, little attention was paid to its conclusions about the military's failure to provide adequate oversight of contract workers at the prison.

"The contracting system failed to ensure that properly trained and vetted linguist and interrogator personnel were hired to support operations at Abu Ghraib," the Fay report says. "The Army should establish standards for contract requirements and personnel. Additionally, the Army must provide sufficient contract management resources to monitor contracts and contractor performance at the point of performance."

There were so few "contracting officer representatives" -- the military employees whose job is to make sure contractors are performing adequately -- that they did well just to "keep up the paper work" and had "no time to actively monitor contract performance," according to the Fay report. "It is apparent that there was no credible exercise of appropriate oversight of contract performance at Abu Ghraib."

Fay's report found that about half of CACI's interrogators, who began arriving at the prison in late September 2003, "lacked sufficient background and training" but were allowed to conduct interrogations because there was such a dire need for the services. CACI had 27 civilian interrogators in Iraq as of May, military officials said.

According to London, CACI has never had more than 10 employees at Abu Ghraib at a time. Although not all of the employees had military training in interrogation, he said, "every one of them satisfied the requirements stipulated in the contract" through experience ranging from the Marines and the CIA to the FBI and local police departments. A report in July by the Army's inspector general found that CACI's interrogators met the requirements of its contract.

Gen. Paul J. Kern, commanding general of the Army Materiel Command and a member of the panel that produced the Fay report, said in an interview that the military was responsible for verifying that civilians met the necessary qualifications.

"Ultimately, the commanders are responsible for the training," Kern said. "It doesn't matter if they are a soldier or a civilian, [the military commanders] are ultimately responsible for making sure the training takes place."

Weaknesses in the contracting system were exacerbated by the rapid expansion of the military's efforts in Iraq, Kern said. "The focus was on getting the contractors there, doing the interrogation, the interpretation. In a war zone, it's not unusual to let the administration fall behind," he said.

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