Law restricting US State Department security hiring: Report
Washington: A congressionally mandated panel has warned that existing US law prevents the State Department from hiring the best contractors to provide security at diplomatic installations worldwide.
According to a report by the independent Commission on Wartime Contracting yesterday, a February 1990 law requires the State Department to "award contracts to the technically acceptable firm offering the lowest evaluated price."
But other government agencies can choose their contractors on the basis of "best value," the commission said.
The report called for an end to the legislative requirement and for new rules freeing the State Department to use different evaluation methods.
"The Commission recommends that Congress...authorise the Department of State to award security service contracts using the full continuum of best-value trade-off evaluation techniques," it said, urging a "quick response" to its proposal.
The assessment came in the wake of a scandal involving employees of Armor Group North America -- a contractor hired to provide security at the US embassy in Kabul.
The State Department and lawmakers expressed outrage after photographs emerged showing Armor Group employees engaged in drunken partying at the US embassy compound they had been hired to protect.
In testimony on the case earlier this month, State Department official Patrick Kennedy said he was horrified by the photographs and the behaviour they showed.