The senior military officer in charge of purchasing food, clothing, medical supplies, construction materials and equipment for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan was relieved of his command on Thursday.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Chambers had been commander of DLA Troop Support since Oct. 6, 2009, before he was “returned to the Air Force” on Dec. 9, according to an agency spokeswoman. DLA annually spends $14.5 billion on contracts to support troops in war zones.
In a memo to Troop Support team members, DLA Director Vice Adm. Alan Thompson said he relieved Chambers as commander “based upon substantiated allegations contained in a Department of Defense Inspector General’s investigative report.” Officials at DLA and the Air Force declined to describe the nature of the allegations.
Thompson tapped Richard Ellis, a retired Navy officer and contracting executive who pioneered the use of online reverse auctions in the federal government, to serve as acting commander of the troop support organization until further notice.
The Defense IG, in a statement provided by the Air Force, said his office had initiated an administrative investigation into allegations involving Chambers at the request of Thompson. “That investigation was completed and forwarded to the secretary of the Air Force for action as deemed appropriate,” the statement said.
Chambers’ removal occurs as DLA faces scrutiny for its role in a contracting controversy involving Kuwaiti-based company charged with overbilling the Defense Department on food contracts. The company, Agility, has been barred from bidding on new U.S. contracts.
According to a press release on the company’s website, “Agility stands by its work on the prime vendor food contract. For seven years, it has met and passed the requirements of government auditors, inspectors general and oversight authorities.”
The president and chief executive officer of Agility’s defense and government services division, Dan Mongeon, is a retired two-star Army general who was director of operations at DLA before he joined the company in January 2006, according to a bio on the company’s website.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article noted that The Washington Post had reported that DLA granted Agility a $26 million, six-month contract extension for food services in Iraq while the agency awaits results of the Government Accountability Office’s adjudication of bid protests against the firm DLA selected to replace Agility. The article also noted the Post reported that Agility closed its offices in the United States and claimed it cannot be subpoenaed or tried outside Kuwait.
According to DLA spokeswoman Michelle McCaskill, the Post incorrectly characterized the Agility contract extension. The food support contract ended on Dec. 4. On Nov. 30, DLA awarded a six-month extension to a separate Agility contract for warehouse support after DLA cancelled a solicitation to replace the original contract. GAO is now evaluating another company’s protest of that cancellation. Agility spokesman Jim Cox also said the Post incorrectly reported that the company closed its offices in the United States following the indictment. “Agility had no corporate place of business in the United States to close. Its affiliates had — and continue to have — offices throughout the United States,” Cox said. In addition, he said, Agility has never claimed it cannot be subpoenaed or tried outside Kuwait.
The article has been updated to remove the erroneous information.
– By Katherine McIntire Peters – GovExec.com – December 13, 2010