You have got to feel sorry for Lynn Owens – what a mess to walk into? Not only are the Police Authority having second thoughts in light of public concern, they shortlist KBR. Did they bother to check out their “reputation” and previous contracts?
See report in blue below.
SURREY Police has announced the shortlist of private sector companies that could work with the force as part of a business partnering programme.
A US military-industrial company connected with the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba is in one of the six bidding groups that have made it through to the next round of the process.
The announcement comes after a meeting of the Surrey Police Authority on May 17, where many members criticised the proposals and it was agreed that the process should be slowed down in order for more in-depth investigation to take place.
Revised timetables will allow for public and staff to be consulted over the summer, although discussions with the bidders will begin now to find out what benefits they could bring to policing.
Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) is being considered for part of the controversial £1.5bn contract in the pilot project, which is a collaboration with West Midlands Police.
KBR, a former subsidiary of the Halliburton group, has attracted criticism over the large contracts it won with the US government during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The corporation also helped to build the Guantanamo Bay detainment and interrogation facility in Cuba. It is believed to be the first time that KBR has attempted to become involved in regular policing.
Other companies under consideration are British Telecommunications, Reliance Secure Task Management and Vanguard Consulting; Capita Business Services; G4S Care & Justice Services; IBM United Kingdom; Logica UK, Amey Community, Northgate Information Solutions; and Serco, HP Enterprise Services and Accenture.
Surrey Police’s deputy chief constable Craig Denholm said: “We are entering into a process of public and staff engagement, which is essential in ensuring we provide the best possible policing for Surrey.”
Lets hope this is more effective than the sham “consultation” over police station closures,
A ‘contract notice’, which first revealed that the forces were tendering services to the private sector, listed activities such as investigating crime and patrolling neighbourhoods. However, Surrey Police Chief Constable Lynne Owens has said private staff would not carry out either of these functions.
KBR – a model company?
Political connections and corruption
Following the end of the first Gulf War, the Pentagon, led by then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root Services over $8.5 million to study the use of private military forces with American soldiers in combat zones. Cheney was chairman and CEO of Halliburton 1995-2000
Some controversy arose in February 1999 when KBR was awarded a substantial contract to provide emergency support to US military operations in the Balkans, despite DynCorp having been awarded a contract, known as LOGCAP II, in 1994 to provide emergency support in exactly these sort of circumstances.
RIO, or Restore Iraqi Oil, was awarded to KBR without competition when the United States Department of Defense determined that KBR was “the only contractor that could satisfy the requirement for immediate execution of the plan“. As of September 2006, hearings were still being conducted into the RIO project over possible billing, management, and procurement violations.
There is also controversy about the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) report on billing-methods for meals in which the auditors allegedly knew about, but disregarded the Army requirement that directed KBR to have varying amounts of meals prepared at certain locations without respect to how many people used the service. Although KBR paid for the food, the DCAA did not believe they should be able to charge the DoD for meals prepared but not served.
In June 2008, Charles M. Smith, the senior civilian Defense Department official overseeing the government’s multi-billion-dollar contract with KBR during the early stages of the war in Iraq said he was forced out of his job in 2004 for refusing to approve $1 billion in questionable charges by KBR. Smith refused to approve the payments because Army auditors determined that KBR lacked credible records to support more than $1 billion in spending. Smith stated, “They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify.” He said that following this action he was suddenly dismissed and according to one New York Times source “his successors — after taking the unusual step of hiring an outside contractor to consider KBR’s claims — approved most of the payments he had tried to block.”
In May 2010, it was reported that KBR was selected for a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through 2011 for military support services in Iraq.
Shell companies in Cayman Islands
In March 2008, the Boston Globe reported that KBR had avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies based in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands. More than 21,000 people working for KBR in Iraq – including about 10,500 Americans – are listed as employees of two companies, Service Employers International Inc., and Overseas Administrative Services, which exist on the island only in computer files in an office.
KBR admitted that the companies were set up “in order to allow us to reduce certain tax obligations of the company and its employees.” But KBR does claim the workers as its own with regards to the legal immunity extended to employers working in Iraq.
Bribing Nigerian officials
On February 6, 2009, the Justice Department announced KBR had been charged with paying “tens of millions of dollars” in bribes to Nigerian officials in order to win government contracts, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). A 22-page document filed in a Houston federal court alleged massive bribes in connection with the construction of a natural gas plant on Bonny Island requiring $7.5bn USD. KBR officials had no comment. KBR pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay $402m USD in criminal fines, nearly all of which was covered by Halliburton. KBR and Halliburton also paid $177m USD in disgorgement of profits to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) due a civil complaint filed by the SEC relating to the FCPA charges.
Former CEO Albert Jackson Stanley, who ran KBR when it was a subsidiary to Halliburton, was sentenced to 7 years in prison via plea agreement.
The Army’s actions came under fire from California Congressman Henry Waxman, who, along with Michigan Congressman John Dingell, asked the General Accounting Office to investigate whether the U.S. Agency for International Development and The Pentagon were circumventing government contracting procedures and favoring companies with ties to the Bush administration. They also accused KBR of inflating prices for importing gasoline into Iraq. In June 2003, the Army announced that it would replace KBR’s oil-infrastructure contract with two public-bid contracts worth a maximum total of $1 billion, to be awarded in October. However, the Army announced in October it would expand the contract ceiling to $2 billion and the solicitation period to December. As of October 16, 2003, KBR had performed nearly $1.6 billion worth of work. In the meantime, KBR has subcontracted with two companies to work on the project: Boots & Coots, an oil field emergency response firm that Halliburton works in partnership with (CEO Jerry L. Winchester was a former Halliburton manager) and Wild Well Control. Both firms are based in Texas.
KBR’s maintenance work in Iraq has been criticized after reports of soldiers electrocuted from faulty wiring. Specifically, KBR has been charged by the Army for improper installation of electrical units in bathrooms throughout U.S. bases. CNN reported that an Army Special Forces soldier, Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, died by electrocution in his shower stall on January 2, 2008. Army documents showed that KBR inspected the building and found serious electrical problems a full 11 months before his death. KBR noted “several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices.” But KBR’s contract did not cover “fixing potential hazards;” It covered repairing items only after they broke down. Maseth’s family has sued KBR. In January 2009, the US Army CID investigator assigned to the case recommended that Maseth’s official cause of death should be changed from “accidental” to “negligent homicide”. KBR supervisors were blamed for failing to ensure electrical and plumbing work were performed by qualified employees, and for failure to inspect the work. In late January 2009, the Defense Contract Management Agency handed down a “Level III Corrective Action Request” to KBR. This is disseminated after a contractor is found being in a state of “serious noncompliance,” and is one step from suspending or terminating a contract. Currently in 2011, KBR is defending the lawsuit by claiming that Iraqi, not American, law should apply in determining a verdict. Despite these issues, KBR was recently awarded a $35 million contract for major electrical work.
As of June 9, 2008, 81 American and foreign KBR employees and subcontractors have been killed, and more than 380 have been wounded by hostile action while performing services under the company’s government contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Family members of injured or killed employees have sued the company in relation to the 2004 Iraq KBR convoy ambush.
Sexual assault and abuse allegations
Jamie Leigh Jones testified at a Congressional hearing that she had been gang-raped by as many as seven co-workers in Iraq in 2005 when she was an employee of KBR, and then falsely imprisoned in a shipping container for 24 hours without food or drink. KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton at the time. Jones and her lawyers said that 38 women have contacted her reporting similar experiences while working as contractors in Iraq, Kuwait, and other countries. On September 15, 2009, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jones, in a 2 to 1 ruling, and found that her alleged injuries were not, in fact, in any way related to her employment and thus, not covered by the contract. In August 2011, KBR sued Jones for two million dollars, saying that her lawsuit was “fabricated and frivolous”.
Jamie Leigh Jones’s case led Senator Al Franken to propose an amendment to the defense appropriations bill, which was passed in October 2009, to allow employees of firms with government contracts access to the courts.
Mary Beth Kineston, an Ohio truck driver, alleged she was sexually harassed and groped by several KBR employees, and was later fired after reporting to the company the threats and harassment endured by female employees.
Jo Frederiksen, another female employee, filed a law suit against the company for allegedly being “inappropriately touched, stalked, intimidated and verbally harassed” during her time with the firm in 2003. According to Frederiksen, after she complained to the firm she was moved to an even more hostile location while some of her abusers were promoted. The lawsuit claimed “women are second-rate citizens provided for the pleasure of men” at the firm. Frederiksen also alleged a lack of oversight to “rampant illicit criminal behavior” related to prostitution and human trafficking by other KBR employees.
Human trafficking lawsuit
On August 28, 2008, defense contractor KBR, Inc. and a Jordanian subcontractor were accused of human trafficking in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles. The suit alleged that 13 Nepali men were recruited by Daoud & Partners to work in hotels and restaurants in Jordan, but upon arrival all 13 men had their passports seized by the contractor and were sent to Iraq to work on the Al Asad Airbase. Twelve of the employees were abducted when their unprotected convoy was attacked by a group calling itself the Army of Ansar al-Sunna, while enroute to the base. Shortly thereafter, a video was released of one of the men being beheaded and the other 11 shot. The remaining employee, Buddi Prasad Gurung, claims to have been held against his will for 15 months, during which time he was forced to work at the base. Reuters quoted attorney Matthew Handley as saying, “It doesn’t appear that any of them knew they were going to Iraq”. KBR made no public comment on the lawsuit, but released a statement which stated in part that it, “in no way condones or tolerates unethical or illegal behaviour”.
“Burn pits” lawsuits
More than 20 federal lawsuits naming KBR and seeking class-action status were filed in late 2008 and 2009 over the practice of operating “burn pits” at U.S. bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan and thus exposing soldiers to smoke containing dioxin, asbestos and other harmful substances. The pits are said to include “every type of waste imaginable,” with items such as “tires, lithium batteries, Styrofoam, paper, wood, rubber, petroleum-oil-lubricating products, metals, hydraulic fluids, munitions boxes, medical waste, biohazard materials (including human corpses), medical supplies (including those used during smallpox inoculations), paints, solvents, asbestos insulation, items containing pesticides, polyvinyl chloride pipes, animal carcasses, dangerous chemicals, and hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles.”
A company statement responding to the allegations said that “at the sites where KBR provides burn pit services, the company does so… in accordance with the relevant provisions” of its contracts as well as “operational guidelines approved by the Army.”
Still, with a background like that, they must be ideal candidates to bolster our governments reputation!