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Project on Government Oversight




POGO Releases Previously Unreleased State Department IG Audit: Shortcomings in State’s Oversight of Baghdad Embassy Security Force

March 26, 2010 


A previously unreleased report by the Department of State Office of Inspector General (IG), obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), found that the State Department has failed to properly oversee the contractor responsible for guarding the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The IG found problems similar to those POGO uncovered at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The IG discovered that security is undermined by significant training and language deficiencies in the Embassy Baghdad guard force, in violation of the contract held by Triple Canopy. The IG also found that conditions for guards at Camp Olympia were "unsafe," and included "four times the acceptable number of guards residing in a room" and "frayed electrical wires in high traffic areas." In the most serious case, there was an electrocution death in September 2009.

According to the report, in the areas in which State conducted the most oversight, Triple Canopy performed well. But in the areas in which State had little oversight—such as training and English language proficiency—the contractor's performance failed to meet contract requirements. "No random language proficiency checks were carried out," the report stated.

"As a result, Triple Canopy has been able to hire and employ guards and guard supervisors with insufficient language ability."

In addition, Triple Canopy's guards reported working an average of 10 to 11 consecutive days, and the IG found that some worked as many as 39 days in a row.

"How could State not have learned their lesson after the public flogging they got for their handling of the Kabul contract?" asked POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian. "This report again raises an important point about whether State can properly manage Embassy security contracts in a war zone."

The IG found that, despite State's shortcomings, the guard force at Embassy Baghdad "has been effective in ensuring the safety of chief of mission personnel." 

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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