Army Won't Re-Issue Same Translator Contract

By Leon Worden
Signal City Editor

Thursday, July 22, 2004

*MEDIA—MANDATORY CREDIT: The Signal newspaper of Santa Clarita, Calif.

nly days before it was to pick a winner, the Army has decided not to reissue the lucrative linguist contract that sent John B. Israel and thousands of other translators to Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The fact that an Army general implicated Israel, 48, of Canyon Country, and another contract translator in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse cancel had no bearing on the decision. Rather, a home-based businessman in Delaware filed a complaint with the General Services Administration claiming that the Army improperly excluded small businesses from the bidding process.
    The current contract, held by information-technology provider Titan Corp. of San Diego, expires Sept. 30.
    "The solicitation for the new contract has been canceled," Deborah Parker, spokeswoman for the Army Intelligence and Security Command, said Wednesday.
    She said no decision has been made on a temporary extension to Titan's contract beyond Sept. 30 while the new contract is rewritten.
    "We're looking at our options," she said.
    She said the protest came from REM Holding Group which, according to a Bloomberg News report, currently holds no government contracts for linguists.
    Attorney Richard Lieberman told Bloomberg that REM believes government agencies must set aside portions of contracts for small businesses when it's possible to do so. Lieberman said the new contract bundles tasks that were previously awarded separately.
    Titan's contract was originally worth $10 million when it was awarded in 1999 to Virginia-based BTG. Titan acquired BTG two years later. As the Army needed more translators for overseas operations after 9-11, the contract was extended and expanded, capping out at $657 million over 5 1/2 years.
    It is now the single most lucrative of Titan's 2,000-plus contracts, generating 6.4 percent of Titan's total revenues in 2003 — $112.1 million of $1.8 billion.
    The contract was rebid this year and was scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year starts. Titan was one of the bidders.
    Titan currently supplies the Army with 4,700 translators, of which an estimated 4,400 are in Iraq. Some, like Israel, are provided to Titan by subcontractors. Israel's employer is SOS Interpreting Ltd. of New York.
    Last month, Titan voluntarily adjusted its billing to the Army, essentially giving back the money it had billed for the services of Israel and another prison translator, Adel L. Nakhla, 50, of Maryland.
    "On June 30th, the contractor (Titan) submitted a credit voucher for  $173,325 for the two individuals named in the Army's report on the alleged prison abuses," a Pentagon spokeswoman said. "The contractor wanted it clearly understood that the credit voucher is in no way an admission of guilt, but rather, was taken as a precaution until the investigation is complete."
    A three-star Army general is leading the investigation of the military intelligence brigade to which Israel was assigned. There is no deadline for its completion.