POGO has made publicly available for the first time an unredacted copy of a $4.4 million contract between the U.S. State Department and U.S. Investigations Services (USIS), an information services company, to staff a special team that investigates possible crimes committed by American private security contractors (PSCs) working in Iraq. This contract was first reported last week on the ABC News web site, but POGO has now released the full and unedited document.
This contract could violate the law that prohibits certain "inherently governmental" functions from being outsourced to the private sector. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) wrote to the Secretary of State last month, urging her to cancel the contract because, according to the law, the direct conduct of criminal investigations is an inherently governmental function.
POGO has blogged in the past about private security contractors, a fast-growing yet extremely secretive area of federal contracting. "The government is increasingly using private security contractors to protect U.S. officials and provide other security services throughout the world, sometimes with tragic consequences," said POGO investigator Neil Gordon. "If the State Department then turns over its responsibility of overseeing its contractors to yet other contractors, you have to wonder who's really minding the store."