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USAID: We don't know how many contractors we have working for us in Iraq

Susie Dow
Original Publication Date
Baghdad Power Plant

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded over $5 billion1 in Iraq reconstruction projects. Yet according to a July 10, 2007 letter2 in response to an ePluribus Media FOIA request, USAID has no idea how many contractors are working on the reconstruction projects it funds in Iraq.

“... our USAID Mission in Iraq informs us that USAID does not aggregate the kind of information for which you are asking.”

However, in direct contradiction, USAID supplies Employment Program data for Weekly Status Reports prepared by the Iraq Transitional Assistance Office (ITAO)3successor to the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO). The data in the ITAO Weekly Stats reports is incorporated and widely disseminated by the State Department in its own Weekly Status Report4 as evidenced in its References.

The June 26, 2007 ITAO Weekly Status Report5 obtained by ePluribus Media from the State Department's Iraq Policy and Operations Group (IPOG) includes a table on page 21 with the following data:

Iraqi Employment: [United States Government] USG Projects6

Employment Program Iraqis Last Week Iraqis This Week % change
Gulf Region District (GRD) (Includes MILCON/OMA)
US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP)
Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I)
Iraq Reconstruction Relief Fund (IRRF) Non-Construction

The following paragraph accompanies the table:

USAID’s Community Stabilization Program supports employment and community infrastructure by providing services ranging from short-term quick impact activities such as garbage collection, debris removal, street maintenance and clearing irrigation canals to rehabilitation and construction of roads, schools, clinics and electric and water distribution systems7.

References cited at the end of the ITAO report indicate data was supplied by the following agencies: Information Management Unit with ITAO (IMU), Gulf Region Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (GRD), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq (MNSTC-I)8. Further attempts by ePluribus Media to discover the origins of USAID's Employment Program data went unanswered.

In Search of Answers

ePluribus Media has repeatedly filed FOIA requests on a range of topics related to contractors in Iraq. The electronic FOIA request filed with USAID on May 12, 2007, specifically sought to discover:

...the aggregate number of all personnel of Prime and Subcontractors at all tiers working in Iraq on projects using funds under the control of USAID: Total Employed in Iraq, Total US citizens, Total Third Country Nationals, Total Local Iraqis as of June 1, 2007.9

Over the last year, ePluribus Media filed similar FOIA letters with the Department of State, U.S. Army Central Command (CENTCOM), the Office of Management and Budget and other federal agencies in response to a memorandum issued by the Office of the President on May 16, 2006.

The memorandum was issued by Robert A. Burton, Deputy Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) in the Executive Office of the President. It asked for data about civilian contractors operating in the Iraq theater, with the subject line: “Request Contracting Information on Contractors Operating in Iraq, from the Office of Management and Budget.”10

Addressed only to “Chief Acquisition Officers” and “Senior Procurement Executives,” the memorandum cited no specific department or agency.

The purpose of this memorandum is to request contracting information on contractors operating in Iraq. The military services and federal agencies are being asked to assist the U.S. Army Central Command (CENTCOM) and Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) in responding to a MNF-I request for information on contractors in Iraq.

The first response to our 2006 FOIA requests came from CENTCOM and arrived just this past June. Accompanying a data disk dated February 4, 200711, the June 14, 2007 cover letter informed us that the information we sought was not classified. Of the 1900 entries within the CENTCOM survey data, three specifically referenced USAID as the “reporting unit” and “contract agency” indicating 52 US citizens employed on USAID funded projects.

USAID Employment Data by CENTCOM:

Contract Number Contractor # US Citizens Employed
267-A-00-00503-00 International Relief and Development
267-C-00-04-00435-07 Louis Berger Group
GEW-C-00-04-00001-05 America’s Development Foundation

Just under seventy thousand, or roughly half of all contractors reported within the CENTCOM survey data, are Third Country Nationals -- that is, neither US nor Iraq citizens.13 But there is no indication of the number of Third Country Nationals (TCN) working on just USAID funded projects from either CENTCOM or ITAO.

USAID Employment Data by Reporting Agency:

Reporting Agency # US Citizens Employed # TCN Employed # Iraqis Employed Subtotal

It remains unclear why the USAID Mission in Iraq is unaware of its own contributions of employment data to both CENTCOM and the ITAO. 


1USAID IRAQ UPDATES Program Financial Summary #2 01-08/07 FY2003-2006

According to USAID, reconstruction funding stands at $5,194,660,809

2USAID Response Letter to Susie Dow RE: FOIA – 152/07 From J.M. Paskar, Chief Information & Reoecords Division Office of Administrative Services, July 10, 2007

3The Iraq Transitional Assistance Office was created by Executive Order on May 9, 2007

"By Executive Order on May 9, 2007, the President created The Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) as the successor organization to the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO)." Press Release, Embassy of the United States, Baghdad, Iraq, May 15, 2007


5Email and attachment from NEA-I-IPOG-DL to Susie Dow

6Chapter 26, Glossary of Terms and Acronyms, page 221, from the Overseas Briefing Center

7Iraq Transition Assistance Office, Weekly Status Report, June 26, 2007 page 21 issued by Information Management Unit, US Embassy, Baghdad

8Email from the ITAO Public Affairs Officer to Susie Dow August 2, 2007 3:59 AM specified acronyms used in references

9Email from Susie Dow to S. Lankford, FOIA Team Leader of USAID May 12, 2007 4:57 PM

10 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

11Iraq Contractors: Raw Data From CENTCOM by Susie Dow, ePluribus Media, July 8, 2007

12Ibid - The raw data from CENTCOM 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.

13Iraq Contractors: Raw Data From CENTCOM by Susie Dow, ePluribus Media, July 8, 2007

Photo credit: Thomas Hartwell

Caption: Engineers make a site inspection at the Baghdad South power plant. USAID is funding the repair of Iraq's nationwide electrical system, which consist of some 29 major generating plants, transmission grids and local substations. Baghdad South, like many other power facilities, is in great disrepair.

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, bronxdem, wanderindiana