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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    More on Privatization and Vance Security

    To date, more than 4,300 private security officers have been put to work at 50 Army installations in the United States, according to Army documents obtained by The Times.

    The work was awarded to four firms — two of which got the contracts without having to bid competitively. The contracts are worth as much as $1.24 billion.


    Two five-year contracts worth as much as $1 billion went to two small Alaska Native firms with little previous security experience. The firms, which operate under special contracting laws enabling them to avoid competitive bidding, subcontracted part of the work to two of the country's largest security firms: Wackenhut Services Inc. and Vance Federal Security Services.

    Thirty-six bases are covered by the Alaska Native contracts — including three in California: Ft. Irwin, the Sierra Army Depot and the Presidio of Monterey.

    "I'm concerned about the protection of our military facilities," said Rep. Lane Evans, an Illinois Democrat who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and has called for hearings on the contracts.

    "Some of these installations house chemical weapons and intelligence materials and should not be compromised with questionable contracting processes and poor security."

    Democrats, watchdog groups and independent contracting experts said that the Army's contracting arrangement with the Alaska Native firms amounted to a back-door deal to send taxpayer dollars to Wackenhut and Vance, which lost out the only time they faced open competition against other companies for the security contracts.

    "It's a total abuse of the intent of the law," said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Program on Government Oversight, a watchdog group. "The law was designed to benefit companies that need a special boost. At the end of the day, if Wackenhut is benefiting, it's just a blatant abuse of the system."


    "The overall performance of the [security guard program] has been excellent and to the standards of the contract," the Army said in a written response to questions from The Times.

    The private security firms also dismissed the complaints.

    Wackenhut said the criticisms were part of a labor battle against the company involving one of the country's largest service unions, Service Employees International Union, which wanted to unionize Wackenhut guards.

    Alutiiq said its performance rating justified the Army's decision.

    The firm's previous security experience consisted of fielding a 120-man private police force for Kwajalein Atoll, a missile test site in the South Pacific.

    "We are paying [our guards] a little higher. But we're getting quality performance as a result. You get what you pay for," said Bruce Swagler, the head of Alutiiq's security program. "Quality-wise and performance-wise, as far as the government is concerned, we're doing a great job."


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