Contractor probed on Guantanamo deal

A former division of one of the nation’s largest outsourcing contractors, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), is under investigation for violating federal procurement regulations because it allegedly supplied interrogators and intelligence analysts to the Defense Department under false pretenses.

According to the Springfield, Va.-based Federal Times, ACS in 2002 provided 30 intelligence analysts and 15 to 20 interrogators for the U.S. Navy’s prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where prisoners captured during the war in Afghanistan and described as “enemy combatants” by the Bush administration are being held.

However, it appears that the U.S. government and ACS were trying to keep this deal secret because the $13.3 million contract states that ACS was to provide technology services to the government, not interrogators and intelligence analysts.

Because the services provided by the Dallas-based ACS are outside of the scope of the original contract, the General Services Administration is conducting an investigation. If the GSA finds that ACS helped draft a false statement of work in the contract, it could be barred or suspended from future government contracts.

In November 2003, about a year after the contract was finalized, ACS and Lockheed-Martin, the nation’s largest defense contractor, completed a deal in which Lockheed-Martin acquired ACS Government Services, the division of ACS with the contract now under investigation.

According to the Federal Times, the U.S. Southern Command contacted the GSA in October 2002 for help in hiring interrogators for the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The GSA put the contract up for bid, but not as an intelligence-gathering contract. Instead, the contract stated that that GSA was seeking information technology workers to assist with a project that the U.S. Department of Interior was overseeing at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

ACS Government Services won the contract and promptly provided the Pentagon with interrogators and intelligence analysts for Guantanamo Bay, not with IT workers for Fort Huachuca.

GSA terminated the contract in 2003 when internal auditors found that services purchased from ACS were not covered by the contract. The Interior Department subsequently agreed to take over the contract’s administration, but continued to use ACS for intelligence services.

When investigative reporters revealed the torture and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq at the hands of interrogators, including those working for private companies, the GSA reopened its investigation into the contract with ACS.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org.