Statement Of MEP CEO Chris Taylor To The Commission On Wartime Contracting
Chief Executive Officer
Mission Essential Personnel, LLC
Commission on Wartime Contracting
July 26, 2010 Hearing
“Subcontracting: Who’s Minding the Store?”
Chairman Shays, Chairman Thibault, distinguished members of the commission; I am honored to have the opportunity to represent Mission Essential Personnel before you today.
Our entire company appreciates the commission's hard work in reviewing U.S. government contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I look forward to today's specific discussion about subcontracting.
While MEP is best known for language services, we also provide training and technical services, intelligence support services, and specialized human-capital support services. Across all our services, our central goal remains this one—to deliver certainty to all of our customers. Over the past six years, the company has grown from a handful of employees to over 6,000 professionals around the world who play a critical role in U.S. government operational support.
Within 12 months of the award of the Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan language services contract, MEP was able to achieve a 97 percent fill-rate of the government's requirement for linguists. Previous contractors never exceeded 43 percent.
MEP provides quality service to its customers on the ground, in the air, on the sea, and even underwater. Our professionals are on every forward operating base and every combat outpost in every province in Afghanistan and in other military and humanitarian missions around the globe.
Because of the nature of their work, most of our linguists are side by side with Marines and soldiers, patrolling villages, exposed to the same risks, and all too often make the ultimate sacrifice in the service of that mission. To date, 200 MEP professionals have been injured, and 50 have been killed. Just last week, five members of our family were lost to a mortar attack in Kandahar City.
Our linguists have been repeatedly commended for their work and their heroism. This includes commendations for linguists who have provided instrumental translation services in the tracking and locating of Al Qaeda operatives and linguists who have literally sacrificed themselves, stepping in front of bullets to protect the service people with whom they serve.
But it's not just in Afghanistan where our brave professionals are adding tremendous value and performing above and beyond the call of duty. For example, when Somali pirates hijacked the vessel Maersk Alabama last April and took the ship's captain and crew hostage, it was an MEP interpreter, Mohamed Abdi, who was serving alongside the U.S. Navy Seal rescue team. Abdi was the prime negotiator with the pirates during the entire crisis, and he demonstrated incredible composure throughout, easing tensions and earning the pirates' trust.
On the fourth and final day of negotiations, Abdi convinced the pirates to allow their boat to be towed behind the U.S.S. Bainbridge and then continued to translate negotiations with them, placing himself at risk and maintaining the rapport is built with those pirates. Ultimately, the pirates resisted, and the Seal snipers were able to bring that crisis to an end. Abdi, like many of our linguists every day, contributed to that mission in an immeasurable and unheralded way. It is not an overstatement to say that the mission could not have been accomplished successfully without him. That is true every day of an MEP linguist somewhere around the world.
Like Abdi on that day last spring, everyone on the MEP team shares the same goal, to support the U.S. government's mission to the best of our ability. Our subcontractors are an important part of that support.
MEP takes seriously its responsibility to oversee its subcontractors. For example, we review and individually validate each and every invoice received from our subcontractor partners to verify costs. Where we cannot, we do not make payment.
While contingency contracting necessarily includes a number of challenges, both to contractors and to the U.S. government, MEP strongly believes first and foremost that this is a partnership. Whether those challenges concern contract management generally or subcontractor management specifically, MEP stands ready to continue to work with the U.S. government and this commission to contribute to effective solutions.
On behalf of the 6,000 MEP men and women around the world, many in harm's way as we hold this hearing today, thank you again for the opportunity to participate in this process. MEP is committed to enabling and supporting the U.S. government wherever and whenever it's asked to do so. Thank you for your time today, and I welcome all of your questions.