The Army has threatened to ban a private security firm
in Iraq from government work because an executive allegedly got inside
information to win $2.5 million in contracts, Army records show.
Eric Barton, a former manager in Iraq for EOD Technology (EODT), was
accused by the Army Suspension and Debarment Office of helping his
company win convoy security work last year while having an affair with
Air Force Capt. Sherrie Remington, a contracting officer, according to
records released to USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information
Remington gave Barton information about previous security contracts
and awarded his company seven contracts between January and March of
2006, according to the records from the Army Suspension and Debarment
Remington gave two contracts to EODT without asking for other bids and
approved three other contracts for the Tennessee-based company even
though other firms had lower bids, the records show. In contracting
files, Remington said the lower-priced competitors were either too
busy with other work or had problems delivering on past contracts.
The Army told EODT in a show-cause letter issued on Sept. 14 that it
was considering banning the company from future contracts because the
allegations against Barton may show weaknesses with the company's
management and ethics. Before making a final decision, the Army's
anti-fraud office requested documents detailing the company's internal
controls and policies to show why it shouldn't be banned from
Eric Quist, EODT's director of business and legal affairs, said in an
e-mail to USA TODAY that the company plans to "assist in whatever
manner possible" and provide information the Army requested.
"To comment on the precise information EODT intends to supply
would not be appropriate," Quist said, declining to comment
The Army Suspension and Debarment Office went one step further against
Barton. It notified the former company executive in September that the
Army proposed banning him from any future government contracts.
Pentagon regulations do not set a deadline for the Army to take final
EODT is the second U.S.-based company this year facing a possible
contracting ban as part of an ongoing crackdown on corruption and
mismanagement in the $47 billion U.S. reconstruction of Iraq. The Army
notified Parsons Corp. in March that it is considering banning the
construction giant because of problems with a canceled contract to
build health clinics in Iraq.
So far, only one U.S.-based company has been barred from government
contracting for wrongdoing in Iraq since the war began: Custer
Battles, a security firm, was banned until at least March 2009 after
the Air Force concluded the company inflated its bills to the former
U.S.-led occupation government.
Barton told investigators that he had an "intimate relationship"
with Remington, but he said neither one of them benefited financially
from the contracts, records show. In a brief telephone interview,
Barton said the case against him was based on "a false allegation
by employees that were terminated."
"It's untrue, that's all I can say about it," Barton
The Army documents say prosecutors declined to file criminal charges
against Barton because there was no evidence he gave money or gifts to
Remington in exchange for government work.
Remington told Air Force investigators that her relationship with
Barton began after she left Iraq in March 2006 and not while she made
contract decisions. The Air Force settled Remington's disciplinary
case with an unspecified administrative punishment, according to an
Aug. 14 letter from Capt. May Gordon, an Air Force lawyer at Hill Air
Force Base, to Brian Persico, a lawyer for the Army Suspension and
Remington could not be reached for comment; the telephone numbers she
listed in the Army records are no longer hers, and she is not listed
in telephone directories for the area around Hill Air Force Base in
Utah, where she is based.
Army records say Barton and Remington, who were married to others at
the time, met in Iraq in late 2005 when Remington was a contract
officer at the Joint Contracting Command -- Iraq.
security companies competing for work organizing and protecting
convoys, and Remington was the officer in charge of awarding and
overseeing that work. The company hadn't gotten any convoy contracts
before Barton and Remington began their affair, the records
- 23 Private Security