Mary L. Wade, Fence Rider

Posted on October 12, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

20th in the series The Great Cluster Fu...   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day (definitions courtesy of TheDean01)

  • fence = a structure that defines an area; a barrier designed to keep things inside
  • fence rider = one charged with maintaining the integrity of a fence

Shockingly casual and quick — that is how Raiznor characterizes the offering and acceptance of major government-funded contracts, implying back room maneuvering for greatest personal or corporate profit.  But, Raiznor is very carefully omitting a very prominent fact:  for Ms. Wade and the other parties to be able to go over the terms and conditions of a contract, there must first be…   well…   a physical contract to go over.  This means a printed document containing terms and conditions detailing the services to be rendered, the manner in which those services are to be rendered, and payment for said rendering.  But, wait!  That’s just the simplified version of what producing that contract would entail.  There’s more:

  • Conditions and terms must include compliance with all applicable references to Federal, International, and local laws which, in turn…
  • will refer to applicable published standards for engineering, construction, worker safety, environmental concerns, which,  in turn…
  • will itemize qualification requirements for engineers, technicians, welders, chemists who, in turn…
  • will submit those documents to the contractor employing those services.

In his drive to pre-condition potential jurors in his favor, Raiznor would have jurors believe that Ms. Wade and her KBR party arrived one morning at a 9:00 a.m. meeting site, selected a random sub-contractor from a line outside on the sidewalk, dragged him inside and asked, “Would you like to receive a billion dollar contract?”  That sub-contractor said, “YES!  You betcha.”  KBR said, “Great.  All you need do is to  hire 500 people in 24 different fields, test them and get their certifications and personal information, get them to agree to do their work while under the threat of being blown up by less-than-happy locals, confirm that under every law known to man you can do all this legally, and get that back to us within 1 hour and 48 minutes after you said ‘You betcha.’  That will leave us 12 minutes to get all that you have submitted confirmed through our engineering, health-safety-environment, procurement, and legal departments AND get this 10 pound contract all typed up and printed so Ms. Wade can go over the terms and conditions with you before we scatter for lunch.”

Yeeaah…   that c-o-u-l-d happen…   IN ANOTHER UNIVERSE.

So, what does Ms. Wade do as Senior Contracts Manager?  I don’t really know, but, from what I have read on-line and heard from her testimony, and from my own industrial experiences, I think I can take a reasonable stab at an outline (if I’m off the mark, ignorance is always my fallback position):

  • She must be knowledgeable of what the client (in this case, the US of A) wants (terms, conditions, overall objectives), and, what KBR will do to perform that contract (task order).  Much of what the LOGCAP entails is standard across the board, but individual task orders will carry variations on performance expectations.
  • She DOES NOT create the terms and scope of contracts.  That task originates with the client and is fleshed out by the various disciplines within KBR (legal, procurement, health-safety-environmental, engineering, cost estimating, construction, logistics, etc.).  Her duty is to understand the completed contract and point out omissions or errors in complying with the client’s contract protocols, as well as KBR’s internal requirements.
  • She explains the terms, conditions, and scope of contracts that KBR subs down to other contractors, making certain they know performance expectations and billing protocols.
  • She raises the red flag on actions that can be interpreted as outside the client’s or KBR’s stated administrative protocols.  (That “invoicing for private security” thing is a prime example.  She cautioned — in an email bearing her correct job title — that such action was probably NOT in compliance with the LOGCAP protocol, since the military was the one to provide physical security.  She could not forbid the invoicing, only warn of its probable irregularity.)

Contracts set boundaries.  Call those boundaries fences.  All parties to that contract must operate within the fenced confines in order to claim the benefit declared in the contract.  Ever cognizant of the buzzards (litigators) and rail-birds (somebody-owes-me-something plaintiffs) trying to roost on their contract fences, corporations like KBR make it a point to toe the legal line.  That is why, like cattle ranchers, they employ fence riders such as Mary Wade (and legal experts in several fields, environmental specialists, etc.) to keep all parties in tune with the client’s wishes and all mandated legal standards.  That does not mean they will never misstep, but, that diligence removes the element of reckless disregard from their operations.

Mary Wade in western wear boots, chaps, hat, saddle, horse…   That’s a far better picture than Doyle Raiznor in blue Superman tights and red boxers.  (I apologize, Mary, for taking that liberty.  I just couldn’t resist.)

Next up:  Another toast

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigator, sued, cluster, deposition

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Contracts Set Boundaries

Posted on August 24, 2012. Filed under: KBR, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

15th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day (definitions according to Dean)

  • deal = an arrangement, often informal and unwritten, sometimes illegal, between two parties for mutual benefit.
  • contract = a formal, legally binding agreement between two parties for mutual benefit.  In business, due to the complexity of applicable laws (local, federal, international) and mandated engineering and environmental standards, these agreements are always set down in an extensive written form.

You would think that an attorney understands the basics of contracts.  Ol’ Raiznor sounds like a legal school dropout in his characterization of the LOGCAP III Water Plant Task Order from The Government to KBR.  But, then, he is not giving a lecture to first-year law students; it is more like a refresher course in Fast Talking Con Artistry 101.  You will note that Super Dan avoids the word “contract” as though it might bite him.  Instead, he employs the word “deal,” carefully enunciating it with a calculated hint of distaste.

Everybody knows what a contract is.  You buy a house, you sign a contract.  You buy a car, you sign a contract.  You rent a residence, you sign a contract.  You enlist in the military, you sign a contract.  You borrow money, you sign a contract.  Is anyone in doubt about what a contract is? 

Everybody knows what a deal is.  The phrase “it’s a deal” is a conditional expression of enthusiasm uttered when it looks like a mutual arrangement has been achieved; continuity of that enthusiasm (except to the most naive among us) is dependent upon a written version of the “deal” with all the whereas‘s and wherefore‘s carefully in place.  A deal without a written contract can be as disagreeable  as a glass of pure lemon juice taken straight up.

Contracts define the boundaries of benefits and obligations.  In business, contracts usually involve the transfer of hard goods or services for money.  One party provides or performs (the contractor), and the other party sets the conditions of that performance and pays (the client).  There is an element of good faith inherent in the agreement:  the product or services are to be provided at the designated level of quality and timely completion, and the money is to be paid in the agreed amount at the agreed time.

Change orders are the rule, not the exception, in every major construction project, whether highway or building.  There can be dozens of these for every project and they may originate from either party, but — since they involve changing the original agreementboth parties must agree to the new conditions.  These changes may be precipitated by weather conditions, availability of supplies, unforseen site conditions, changes in design of the project or of a component…   just about anything.  It is simply the way business is conducted.

An independent arbiter may be sought by either party when there is an impasse over the meaning of terms set forth in the contract.  In litigator terms, one party sues the other in civil court.  Such actions are common in business, and, thousands of these take place every year without a running commentary from Ms. Sparky or every news outlet in the country.  These actions are strictly the business of the contract parties and no one else.  Social and political views have absolutely nothing to do with the interpretation of contractual terms.

Next up:  About that “no-bid” comment by Raiznor

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky

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