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Despite Track Record, US Hires Contractor to Provide Troops to UN Haiti Mission
In a press release last Tuesday, DynCorp International announced that the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) had awarded the company with a $48.6 million contract. The purpose of the contract is to “recruit and support up to 100 UNPOL and 10 U.N. Corrections Advisors. DI will also provide logistics support to the Haitian National Police (HNP) Academy and each academy class. In addition, DI will supply five high-level French and Haitian Creole speaking subject matter experts to advise senior HNP officials.”
While the press release went out April 9, the contract was actually awarded to DynCorp a year ago, and the first funding through the award was given to DynCorp in November 2012 in the amount of $12.9 million. DynCorp is one of the largest government contractors, receiving well over $3 billion in 2012.
As the company points out, its previous work in Haiti began in 2008 and involved the training of over 400 police officers. That work, part of the Haiti Stabilization Initiative, also entailed increasing the size of the U.N. military base in Cite Soleil. DynCorp, which continues to receive funds through that task order, has received over $23 million since 2008 for its work in Haiti.
One of the primary tasks of the U.N. military mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is to recruit and train members for the Haitian National Police, so that they could eventually take over for the foreign troops. With this latest contract, DynCorp has gone from training police to take over for MINUSTAH, to simply supplying troops directly to MINUSTAH.
But the awarding of the contract to DynCorp is also problematic given the company’s terrible track record in the same exact program areas where they will now operate in Haiti.
In Bosnia in the late ‘90s, DynCorp was contracted by the State Department to provide “peacekeepers” for the U.N. police there, just as in Haiti now. One employee, Kathryn Bolkovac, was eventually fired after blowing the whistle to her superiors at DynCorp on the participation of her colleagues in sex trafficking, among other abuses. The case was the basis for the 2011 Hollywood movie, The Whistleblower.
Unfortunately, these types of abuses have been all too common in Haiti since the arrival of U.N. troops in 2004. And similar to the situation in Bosnia, there have been only sporadic and piecemeal efforts to hold those responsible, accountable.
Additionally, DynCorp has a history of waste, fraud and abuse, including under U.S. government contracts to provide police training in Afghanistan and Iraq, similar to their program in Haiti. In 2010, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued a report which found that the State Department and DynCorp could not account for $1 billion dollars spent training the Iraq police. At the time, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said “[INL has]been managing this contract in Iraq since 2004 and, according to this report, they have no idea where any of the money went… What's even worse is that these are the same people responsible for police training in Afghanistan, so I don't have any confidence that they're doing a better job there.”
Sure enough, in 2011 DynCorp was slammed by a joint audit from the State Department and Department of Defense over their work training the Afghan police. It wasn’t the first time. Also In 2011, according to the Project on Government Oversight’s Contractor Misconduct Database, DynCorp paid $7.7 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit after a whistleblower alleged that the company had inflated claims under a “contract with the State Department to provide civilian police training in Iraq.”