Halliburton caught 'hindering competition and oversight' by routinely hiding information
27 Oct., 2006
WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) reported today that Halliburton routinely hides from public view the details of its contract performance in Iraq, thereby "hindering competition and oversight." ###
SIGIR concluded that Halliburton "marks almost all of the information it provides to the government as ... proprietary data," thereby forbidding military personnel from disclosing it to the public.
But marking information as "proprietary" is permissible only during the bidding for, not the performance of, contracts.
By marking almost all data as "proprietary," Halliburton successfully conceals critical performance information from public discourse, including overcharges of the taxpayers. The scheme, the SIGIR report said, "inhibits transparency of government activities and the use of taxpayer funds."
The report concluded that Halliburton has turned regulations "into a mechanism to prevent the government from releasing normally transparent information, thus potentially hindering competition and oversight."
A military audit released to the public last year was heavily redacted at the specific request of Halliburton because it contained numerous criticisms of the company's work in Iraq, including $108 million in overcharges. Even the overcharges were redacted by the military prior to public release.
Read the numerous examples of the Pentagon's preferential treatment for Halliburton at this link.
The SIGIR report found that Halliburton "inappropriately" told the Pentagon to conceal information such as reports on dining head counts in military cafeterias (the company admitted billing the military for meals it didn't serve) and the amount of fuel delivered to foreign embassies (the company was caught overcharging for fuel in 2003).
In an emailed response to SIGIR, Halliburton said it "has encountered situations in the past where extremely competition sensitive data has found its way to the press and/or to the internet. As a result, this data is being properly protected." It justified the unusual step of marking nearly all of its information as "proprietary" on grounds that "disclosure would cause a forseeable harm" to operations.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) chairs an unofficial Senate committee, indeed the only Senate committee, that has consistently investigated military contractors in Iraq. "Our committee has been denied information we sought in our attempt to conduct oversight," he said, "specifically because KBR [Halliburton] invoked these rules, something that the Special Inspector General now concludes to have been bogus." Although the Senate's Republican majority has refused to provide regular oversight as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, Dorgan said: "Clearly there is an urgent and compelling case for taking a close look at what is going on with these contracts.”
Halliburton was recently fired from its troop support contract (known as LOGCAP) in Iraq because of its notoriously delinquent performance. But the Pentagon has announced it may allow the company to bid on the new contract anyway. The winning bidders won't be disclosed to the public until November -- after the U.S. midterm elections.
A senior official at the Pentagon told SIGIR that Halliburton's scheme to conceal information will make it more difficult to carry through with firing the company from the troop support contract. SIGIR said Halliburton's "practice of marking almost all data it provides the government as proprietary may inhibit the transition of work being performed under the current LOGCAP contract to the successor contracts."
Read the SIGIR report
The Top Twenty Iraq Oversight Outrages Uncovered by the DPC
Heads in the Sand: Senate Republicans And Oversight of the War in Iraq