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by Susie Dow

In an era of privatization and occupation, we need to know how many contractors are working in Iraq. Civilian personnel certainly are performing military-related operations, but we don't know the numbers of civilian contractors filling in the ranks of truck drivers, cooks, service personnel and other logistic roles. Unfortunately, those statistics have been hard to come by.

To remedy this, ePluribus Media filed its first Freedom of Information ACT (FOIA) request for such information in June of 2006. Almost exactly a year later, Central Command (CENTCOM) released updated results of its census on contractors working in Iraq. This census was first compiled in response to a Memorandum issued by Robert A. Burton, Deputy Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Executive Office of the President, with a subject line entitled: Request Contracting Information on Contractors Operating in Iraq, from the Office of Management and Budget, dated May 16, 2006.1

With information beginning to be available, it will take the diligence of citizen journalists to make sense of the role of civilian contractors in Iraq, starting with analysis of this new census.  At the end of this article, anyone interested in becoming involved in this will find links to the information and suggestions on how to proceed.

About the Information

The CENTCOM response to our request was a 'data dump.' The raw data is roughly organized by Contract Number, with 1901 entries.  Data fields for each entry include:

Reporting Unit, Company Name; Contracting Agency; Mission; Location; and the Total Number of Employees, broken down by U.S., Coalition, Third Country Nationals and Iraqis.

Unfortunately, many entries contain numerous blank fields, making it impossible to arrive at correct figures for the number of contractors working in Iraq.  So the wait for accurate information continues.

Figures from CENTCOM:

Additionally, a closer look at the data released by CENTCOM reveals there are at least 133,196 contracted employees working on U.S. funded projects in Iraq, significantly more (3,391) than the 129,805 shown for Total Employed.

In some cases, there is no clear indication of the nationality of those employed; all of a company's employees being lumped under Total Employed. This lumping together was the case for at least 14,375 employees. Significantly, of the 1901 entries, 175 show no employees at all, another indication that there are probably more contractors working in Iraq than being reported in the totals from the census.

While most of the contracts are under Department of Defense and defense related agencies (446 such listings were reported by the Joint Contracting Command Iraq/Afghanistan2), the list also includes at least 3 contracts under the jurisdiction of USAID, 13 under the jurisdiction of the Department of State, and 6 for the Department of Justice.

The contracts cover a wide range of goods and services, from Port-A-Johns (51 employees) to translators & interpreters (130 entries) to security canine services (12 employees).

Interestingly, one contract was issued under oversight of the Department of State for "Development of a Televised Series on Remembering Pattern of Oppression in Saddam's Iraqy [sic]" (33 employees) under the Iraq Memory Foundation.

One Sample story behind the data:Contract Number W91GXZ-06-A-0001

The CENTCOM data shows that Contract Number W91GXZ-06-A-0001 was issued by the Joint Contracting Command Iraq/Afghanistan (JCC I/A) to Xuan Yuan Industrial Development Co. Ltd for the one-year period from September 2006 to September 2007. Issued by the Facilities and Transportation Sector (F & T Sector), the contract is to support the U.S.

Army Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region Division and the Project and Contracting Office (GRD/PCO) for "Design Build" at Camp Victory in the International Zone. According to the documents released by CENTCOM, Xuan Yuan Industrial employs 87 personnel on the project, although there is no indication of the 87 individuals' nationalities.

Oddly enough, as recently as March 2001, the U.S. prevented Iraq from trading through the Oil for Food Program with the very same Xuan Yuan Industrial Development Co. Ltd. The U.S. placed hold on Xuan Yuan Industrial Development Co. Ltd.'s trade through UN's Committee 661. But today, Xuan Yuan is listed by CENTCOM as an Iraq contractor, its services in Iraq paid for with U.S. appropriated funds.3

What Can You Find?

There is much to discover in this raw data, similar to the sample above. Help us look. ePluribus Media provides the data from CENTCOM, available for download as an htm page here. Below are some instructions for how to go digging, so take a look, and post your own findings.

Tip: Open the CENTCOM excel spreadsheet (the htm version is above) and sort the data under the various headers to view the most commonly used reporting agencies, company names, locations, missions, etc.

Tip: Compare and cross reference company names by reviewing the August 2006 Defense Base/War Hazards Act Summary By Employer from the Department of Labor available at the American Contractors in Iraq website.

Tip: Cross reference the Contract Number with the previously disclosed lists generated by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) listed below.4

Additional Reading:

Private contractors outnumber U.S. troops in Iraq By T. Christian Miller, Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2007

Census Counts 100,000 Contractors in Iraq By Renae Merle, The Washington Post, December 5, 2006

1 Memorandum issued by Robert A. Burton, Subject: Request Contracting Information on Contractors Operating in Iraq, from the Office of Management and Budget, dated May 16, 2006

2 Joint Contracting Command __  Iraq/Afghanistan: Providing Responsive, Full-Spectrum Contracting Support to U.S. Military Forces, DCMA Communicator, Summer 2006


4 Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)

About the Author: Susie Dow is the Editor of the weblog, The Missing Man, which follows articles on Kirk von Ackermann and Ryan Manelick. She is a volunteer researcher and editor at ePluribus Media.

ePluribus Media Contributors
: Roxy, cho, standingup, jenn718, Aaron Barlow, GreyHawk, clammyc

In case you missed them, Susie Dow's continued coverage on Contracting in the Middle East ... from May 2006 One Missing, One Dead: An Iraqi Contractor in the Fog of Warand her three part series in March 2007  Contingency Contracting and the Defense Base Act.  Susie Dow also writes regular commentaries on what's going on in the world of Civilian Contracting

If you like what ePMedia's been doing with research, reviews and interviews, please consider donating to help with our efforts and especially to help us keep making FOIA requests!

Originally posted to ePluribus Media on Sun Jul 08, 2007 at 02:27 PM PDT.

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