Meet The Obscure Business Behind America’s Syria Mess

 Oct, 02 - 2015   Uncategorized

A Tiny Firm Wins Huge Contracts

Incorporated in Delaware in 2010, Purple Shovel was founded by Benjamin Worrell, who operated in Army counterintelligence from 1993 to 2001, according to military records. His company is designated as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned little businesssmall company. His last assignment was with the 902nd Military Intelligence Group out of Fort Meade, Maryland. Military sites say the unit runs “full spectrum counterintelligence activities,” which consist of “discovering, recognizing, reducing the effects of and exploiting international intelligence services, international terrorist risks and expert hazards.”

From 2005 onward, according to his LinkedIn page, Worrell worked for the United States government and a series of contracting companies. He and his partner submitted for personal bankruptcy in 2008, the year the monetary crisis was cratering the economy. He reached a contract with the bankruptcy court to release the financial obligation, and federal court records reveal that his bankruptcy case was closed in July 2012. A Purple Shovel lawyer, Margaret Carland, emailed that the bankruptcy was connected with medical costs and “is a private matter of no public news consideration.”

Purple Shovel’s huge break was available in December 2014, when it won two agreements totaling more than $50 million for the Syria program from the Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, which coordinates the activities of America’s most elite military units.

When Purple Shovel was awarded those important contracts, according to a federal procurement database, the business had just six staff members and yearly revenue of less than $2 million.

One contract, for $23.5 million, was not for guns, but rather for training and devices. In time, the agreement came to consist of things like “Arabic keyboards,” and swelled to $31 million. Purple Shovel, records show, got this contract as a “sole source” award, suggesting there was no competitive bidding– no other business were able to tryaim to get the work at a much cheaper rate. Federal law generally discourages no-bid contracts, and the Pentagon decreased to state why one was offeredgiven up this case, though a federal procurement information system reported that it was due to the fact that there was “just one source.” Still, according to a performance evaluation Purple Shovel shared with BuzzFeed News, the government provided the company a radiant review of its work on this contract, which was completed at the end of July, calling the work “extraordinary.”

The other big SOCOM contract was for roughly $26.7 million and was for “International Weapons and Ammo,” according to the description. In this case, federal records say Purple Shovel won the agreement in a competitive quote against 2 other companies. This contract ultimately worked its method as much as $28.3 million.

The equipment Purple Shovel and its subcontractors were expected to purchase for the Syrian rebels, according to documentations and sources familiar with the procurement operation in Bulgaria, consisted of 12,640 armor-piercing rocket-propelled grenades, of a type called the PG-7VM, along with numerous shoulder-mounted launchers. Then there were 6,240 even longer-range anti-tank grenades called PG-9Vs, which are fired from launchers called SPG-9s. (Insiders pronounce it “spig-nines.”)


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