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Firm audited over Iraq billing

WASHINGTON – A defense contractor that supplied vehicle parts for the Iraqi army sought reimbursements from the U.S. military far in excess of the cost of the items, according to a new report by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

The contractor, Aecom Government Services, charged $237 for a vehicle side mirror that was supposed to cost $14.88, according to the report. The company also submitted invoices to the U.S. military in Iraq seeking reimbursements of $196.50 for a bag of 10 washers that was supposed to cost $1.22, $10 for a fuse that should have cost 45 cents and $210 for a $24.09 inner tube.

Aecom officials disputed the allegations, telling auditors that the overcharging was the result of “billing errors” that “occurred early in the contract,” according to the report, scheduled for release today. The company said that “cumulative adjustments were made.”

Paul Gennaro, a senior vice president of Aecom, said Thursday that the company had “self-identified and corrected” the issues, “making an immediate repayment over two years ago – to the client’s satisfaction.”

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general, said in the report that the findings point to larger issues with government contracts issued for work in Iraq. Preliminary audits of 22,000 Defense Department transactions involving about $10.7 billion have identified not just overpayments by the government, but also duplicate payments, and payments to fictitious vendors and addresses.

Bowen’s auditors reviewed four of 139 invoices Aecom submitted for repayment from July 2005 to September 2009; they totaled $29.9 million. From those, the audit identified “about $4.1 million in potential overbillings.”

The auditors disputed assertions that Aecom had repaid the government in full.