In shift, Pentagon to solicit bids on $1 billion contract to train Afghan police

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 16, 2010; A21

The Pentagon said Thursday that it would solicit bids for a $1 billion contract to train Afghan police officers after an oversight agency said the contract should not previously have been awarded to a North Carolina firm in a non-competitive process.

David Sedney, a deputy assistant secretary at the Defense Department, told a Senate subcommittee that the agency will hold a "full and open competition."

Falls Church-based DynCorp International, which currently trains Afghan police under a State Department contract, filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office after the Pentagon moved to shift the training of Afghan police to Blackwater Worldwide, the North Carolina firm now known as Xe Services.

The GAO upheld DynCorp's protest.

Government auditors have found a host of problems with the training of Afghan police under DynCorp, including a lack of oversight, paperwork and other troubles.

"Just about everything that could go wrong here has gone wrong," Gordon S. Heddell, the Pentagon's inspector general, told the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on contracting oversight on Thursday.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the subcommittee, said the Afghan police force is "woefully incompetent, corrupt, and mistrusted by the Afghan people."

"These accounts are an indictment of the State and Defense departments' management of the program," she said.

DynCorp said in a written statement that the training program has "made significant progress" and that the company "works relentlessly to be a responsible partner."

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