Panel to Hear of Halliburton Waste
By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 22, 2004; Page E01
In the spring of 2003, not long after John Mancini arrived in Kuwait
City as procurement employee for Halliburton Co., he came to an
unsettling conclusion: No one cared about his skill at buying goods and
making sure government money was wisely spent.
Over the next three months, Mancini said in a recent interview, he
watched as colleagues at Halliburton subsidiary KBR paid inflated fees
for cell phone services, bought hundreds of rolls of duct tape for $60
each and obscured the waste by failing to file paperwork properly. In
one case, he said, a fellow procurement employee recorded a
multimillion-dollar purchase as a $200 order, then dismissed it as a
After he and others raised questions, Mancini said, the company sent in
a team to prepare for government audits. "The waste was unbelievable,"
said Mancini, who left KBR after three months. "This was pure
Stories like Mancini's will be the focus of a hearing today by the House
Committee on Government Reform, as it examines allegations of waste,
abuse and profiteering related to the Army's contracts in Iraq with
Halliburton, the oil services company that Dick Cheney ran from 1995 to
Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said she did not know the particulars
of Mancini's allegations, but that the company would look into them.
Mancini isn't scheduled to testify, but the committee will hear from
several KBR executives. Halliburton officials have acknowledged some
misspending in Iraq -- including $6 million in overcharges that the
company repaid -- but have said repeatedly that the company is doing a
good job overall.
"KBR is pleased to have the opportunity to appear before the Committee .
. . so we may describe our efforts in Iraq to support our troops in a
very difficult, demanding and dangerous mission," Hall wrote in an
e-mail. "We recognize that any effort like this demands oversight.''
The hearing is shaping up as a political sparring match over Halliburton
because of the Cheney connection. The minority Democrats, led by Henry
A. Waxman (D-Calif.), pressured Republican leaders to allow
whistle-blowers to testify, in part to promote the company as an
election year issue.
Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) said "the so-called
whistle-blowers" simply misunderstood the logistical reality of life
during wartime. He said he was giving the Democrats a chance "to put up
or shut up" on an issue that won't go away.
"They're taking a series of anecdotes and trying to turn them into some
kind of scandal," Davis said in an interview yesterday.
Under a wide-ranging contract called LogCAP, Halliburton furnished the
Army with logistical support throughout the Middle East. It was
guaranteed a certain level of profit and allowed to pass on all costs to
the government, with the assumption that it would operate efficiently.
Halliburton has been awarded work in Iraq worth about $5.6 billion
through May, according to a report by the Government Accountability
One issue to be explored at the hearing is whether the Houston-based
Halliburton, its subsidiary KBR and their subcontractors overcharged the
government for food, oil, housing and other services, while failing to
properly oversee spending.
Scheduled to testify are several former employees interviewed earlier by
Waxman's staff. One told of filling out time cards saying he worked
12-hour days, seven days a week, even though he put in no more than a
week's worth of labor. Another said the company removed spare tires from
new Mercedes and Volvo trucks and then abandoned one that had a flat
Marie deYoung, who began working on LogCAP in December 2003, said she
will tell the committee that the company tried to mislead government
auditors by limiting the amount of information entered into computers --
a practice that "contributed to cost overruns and poor management."
The committee will also hear about two new studies about contracting in
Iraq, one from the GAO and one from Waxman's staff.
The GAO report said its investigators found "a pattern of contractor
management problems," including poor financial reporting and an
inability to schedule work in a timely way. The report said the Army did
not plan how to use LogCAP effectively until after the fall of Baghdad.
The Army also did not limit spending on the contract until this spring,
after Halliburton's cost estimates increased from $5.8 billion to $8.6
The report said "the contractor's managers at individual sites have no
knowledge of the costs associated with their task orders." Hall said the
company worked with oversight teams from the Pentagon "and have refined
systems and improved our processes and performance."
A separate report prepared for Waxman by staff Democrats says that a
no-bid contract with Halliburton to import gasoline and other fuel into
Iraq resulted in $167 million in extra charges before the government
began using in-house experts to handle the task. A Defense Department
audit last year said the company overcharged by about $61 million. Hall
said the Army was aware of the prices it paid to buy and deliver fuel
from Kuwait to Iraq and that KBR believes the terms of the new contract
are significantly different.
Waxman dismissed Davis's contention that only politics is at play in the
examination of Halliburton contracts. "It's inexcusable that taxpayer
money should be squandered in overpayments," he said. "We have an
obligation to see whether billions of dollars are being wasted."