The defense contractor investigated in 2012 after cellphone videos surfaced of its employees drunk and high on drugs in Afghanistan may have misused almost $135 million of U.S. taxpayer money, an audit finds.
A financial audit done on behalf of the independent Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) alleges Arlington-based Imperatis Corporation, formerly Jorge Scientific Corporation, couldn’t produce documents to show whether some payments to a subcontractor were allowed under its contract with the Army.
The IG report, released in April, said either Imperatis should produce the appropriate documents “to demonstrate that the costs invoiced and paid were allowable…” or refund the money to government.
Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the ranking Democrat and chairman, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on investigations, are now demanding a full briefing from the Army Contracting Command about all its contracts with Imperatis, which over time have totaled nearly $1 billion.
In a letter Tuesday to the agency’s Commanding General Theodore Harrison, McCaskill and Portman highlighted the previous issues with the firm after which, they wrote, the company assured them it “had taken action to ensure that there was no further misconduct by Jorge Scientific employees in Afghanistan.”
“After allegations of frequent drug and alcohol abuse, bar brawls, and out-of-control parties among its employees in Afghanistan, this contractor is now facing additional scrutiny into its business practices to the possible tune of more than $130 million in taxpayer dollars, and we intend to get to the bottom of it,” McCaskill said in an e-mail to the Loop.
The Army uses Imperatis to provide counterinsurgency intelligence training for Afghan security forces through its Legacy Easy Project. In 2012, two former employees filed a complaint that there was rampant use of drugs and alcohol by then-Jorge Scientific personnel in Afghanistan. They took cellphone video of wasted employees that they gave to ABC News, which first reported the story.
After that story broke, McCaskill wrote to Secretary of the Army John McHugh asking for a review of Jorge Scientific’s contracts. She received a response that the Army was looking into it, and had subsequent briefings. She was assured everyone involved had been fired and there would be more oversight.
Imperatis has responded forcefully to the recent independent audit, asking that the findings be reconsidered or that SIGAR “provide more time and funding to complete the audit.”