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Public Statements

Letter to John McHugh, Secretary of the Army

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

A bar brawl, severe drug and alcohol abuse, and fraud are among the allegations being leveled at a police training contractor in Afghanistan, as well as uniformed and civilian Army officials-revelations that U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill says will give new fuel to her longstanding fight to correct the systemic failures associated with efforts to train the Afghan police force.

"The shocking abuses by government contractors described in these complaints are outrageous and something that should offend every taxpayer," said McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. "The only silver lining here is that I believe this alleged misconduct will add fuel to my fight to crack down on the dangerous failures in the effort to train the Afghan police force. I'm going to fight to make sure this company, and government officials who've failed in their oversight responsibilities, are held accountable."

Allegations surfaced this week against Virginia-based contractor Jorge Scientific, a defense contractor currently conducting counterinsurgency training for the Afghan police forces in Kabul and Kandahar. Cell phone video appears to show employees under the influence of drugs and alcohol (alcohol-consumption by contractors in Afghanistan is not permitted). According to the complaint, the parties and other wrongdoing also included Army military and civilian personnel. Jorge Scientific has been the recipient of nearly $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded contracts.

Allegations have also surfaced that contractor employees forged paperwork so individuals could illegally obtain weapons (including grenades). The misconduct apparently went unnoticed by Army officials charged with oversight of the contract.

A former prosecutor and State Auditor, McCaskill wrote today to the Secretary of the Army John McHugh demanding information for her Subcommittee and a full-scale Army investigation.

McCaskill used a 2010 hearing of her subcommittee to grill top State and Defense Department officials about the continuing failure of government contractors responsible for training the Afghan police force. Since then, she has repeatedly pressed for reforms to the process.

McCaskill has consistently used her Subcommittee to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars-having recently introduced the Comprehensive Contingency Contacting Reform Act, the most significant reform of wartime contracting standards in 60 years. McCaskill has also introduced legislation to strip U.S. funding for large-scale infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, and plug those resources directly into needed road and bridge projects in America.

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I recently learned of shocking new allegations relating to contractors working under a U.S. Army contract with Jorge Scientific Corporation to provide counterinsurgency training for the Afghan National Police in Kabul and Kandahar. According to a complaint filed by two former employees of Jorge Scientific, Jorge personnel, including company executives, engaged in frequent abuse of alcohol and drugs in Kabul, a "bar brawl", and parties so loud that they repeatedly attracted the attention of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security. The contractor also allegedly submitted false paperwork to the government to enable its employees to obtain and carry weapons without proper authorization. The former employees also alleged that uniformed and civilian Army personnel participated in drunken parties and other misconduct with Jorge contractors.[1]

If true, these allegations raise serious questions relating to the Army's management and oversight of contracts in Afghanistan. I am particularly concerned because of the legacy of mismanagement of police training contracts. At a Subcommittee hearing in 2010, Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell described the government's efforts to train the Afghan National Police to date as "inadequate" and stated that "just about everything that could go wrong here has gone wrong." Mr. Heddell and other witnesses noted that the lack of sufficient, trained government personnel on the ground in Afghanistan played a significant part in the problems with the contract.[2]

I am also disheartened to hear of the Army's apparent failure to conduct adequate oversight of alcohol, drug, and firearm use by contractors in Afghanistan. The allegations reported here are strikingly similar to many which have been raised in Congressional hearings over the last decade. [3] For example, the Subcommittee has investigated allegations relating to contractor employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, including hazing, alcohol abuse, sexual humiliation, and misuse of government property.[4] In 2010, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing that revealed disturbing information about Defense Department contractors who engaged in multiple illegal or improper activities while working in Afghanistan, including carrying weapons without authorization, diverting weapons from the government that were intended for use on the Afghan National Police training contract, and making false statements to the government.[5]

These allegations, which include a video of the alleged drug and alcohol abuse by Jorge personnel now circulating on the internet, also have the potential to jeopardize the counterinsurgency mission. According to the Commission on Wartime Contracting, "perceptions of improper or illegal behavior by contractors who suffer few or no consequences generate intense enmity and damage U.S. credibility."[6] Given the importance of the police training mission in Afghanistan, swift and aggressive action to ensure that these allegations are fully investigated and the contractor and U.S. personnel involved are held accountable is imperative.

In light of the seriousness of these allegations and the potential for harm to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, I urge you to conduct a thorough review of the performance, management, and oversight of this contract and all other Army contracts for police training in Afghanistan. I also request that, if warranted, you refer the contractor, Jorge Scientific, and any military or Defense Department civilian personnel for appropriate criminal, civil, or administrative action.

I also request that you provide a briefing for Subcommittee staff on or before October 26, 2012, including information regarding: (1) the number, type, value, and obligations to date of contracts held by Jorge Scientific Corporation; (2) evaluations or audits of the contractor's performance; (3) the number, qualifications, and locations of the contracting officers' representatives and other personnel responsible for conducting oversight of Jorge Scientific contract(s) in Afghanistan; (4) Army policies and procedures related to the acquisition and use of firearms, grenades, and other weapons by contractors in Afghanistan; and (5) other Army police training contracts in Afghanistan.

The jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight is set forth in Senate Rule XXV clause 1(k); Senate Resolution 445 section 101 (108th Congress); and Senate Resolution 73 (111th Congress). An attachment to this letter provides additional information about how to respond to the Subcommittee's request.

I appreciate your assistance. Please contact Margaret Daum with the Subcommittee staff at (202) 224-4462 with any questions. Please send any official correspondence relating to this request to kelsey_stroud@hsgac.senate.gov.

Sincerely,

Claire McCaskill
Chairman
Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight


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