Inessential Personnel: Insider Alleges Ineffective Interpreters Compromise Soldier Safety

Whistleblower Paul Funk has been involved with military support, interpreters, and linguists for over thirty years in war theaters in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan — so, when he says something is wrong with the interpreters currently being sent to Afghanistan, we ought to listen. Earlier this month, Funk filed an amended Complaint under the federal False Claims Act against Mission Essential Personnel, LLC for supplying unqualified interpreters and endangering the lives of American soldiers.

In response to a federal district judge’s order that Funk provide more specificity to his allegations, this most recent complaint names dozens of interpreters whom the company allegedly helped cheat on tests or alter test scores. Funk alleges that in addition to providing cheat sheets for language tests and altering scores, the company supplied “stand-ins” to take the tests to keep a steady supply of under-qualified interpreters going to Afghanistan in order to fulfill the $700 million no-bid cost-plus contract. According to the Complaint, Mission Essential Personnel used a variety of schemes to circumvent testing requirements:

“[F]or example, preparing records showing that individuals had passed their proficiency tests, when in fact they had submitted blank tests or otherwise failed; changing failing test scores to create records showing that tests had been passed.”

Additionally, the Complaint alleges that instructions were given to inflate the use of Mission Essential Personnel’s interpreters —  if an interpreter “entered two hours of work in time records, the records should be changed to reflect eight hours of work.” Funk’s amended Complaint alleges widespread dishonesty, fraud, and cover-up within the company:

U.S. ex rel. Paul Funk v. Mission Essential Personnel, LLC
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Watch an ABC News report by Brian Ross on the Mission Essential Personnel allegations and the potential compromise of soldier safety caused by unqualified interpreters in the field.

To report defense contracting fraud or other False Claims Act violations, contact Frohsin & Barger.