Contractor linked to electrocution of Green Beret in Iraq loses $25M in military award fees

By Kimberly Hefling, AP
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Contractor linked to Iraq death loses $25M in fees

WASHINGTON — Military contractor KBR has lost about $25 million in bonuses from the government because of “failed” worked done in Iraq during the time a Green Beret was electrocuted in a barracks shower it was responsible for maintaining.

The U.S. Army Sustainment Command said in a statement released to The Associated Press Wednesday night that the Houston-based company failed to meet a level deserving of an award fee payment for work it did during the first four months of 2008. Award fees are written into contracts as an incentive for the contractors to do quality work.

The Army statement did not specifically mention the January 2008 death of 24-year-old Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth of Pittsburgh in the statement but said a task force that has extensively reviewed electrical work in Iraq was consulted in making the decision as was the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, which investigated Maseth’s death, but did not press charges against KBR.

Dan Carlson, a spokesman for the Army Sustainment Command, said in an e-mail that “multiple factors” led to the decision.

Investigators said in August there was “insufficient evidence to prove or disprove” that anyone was criminally culpable in Maseth’s death.

The uproar over Maseth’s death triggered a review of 17 other electrocution deaths in Iraq and widespread inspections of electrical work in Iraq, much of which was performed by KBR. Maseth’s family has a pending lawsuit in federal court against KBR.

Heather Browne, a company spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The company disclosed the loss of the award fees in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It said it also expects to lose an additional $112 million in award fees from the government for the period of May to December 2008. It said it expects to lose the money based on information from a contracting official who said he “based his decision on information from sources that were different from our past experiences with award fee determinations.”

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