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U.S. firm with poor ratings hired for more Afghan work

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Black & Veatch A U.S. contractor who has continued to receive government contracts despite criticism of its work in Afghanistan was given low ratings for its performance on two more high-profile projects in the war-torn country.

McClatchy has learned that the U.S. government criticized Black & Veatch for its poor oversight and delays of a Kabul power plant project and for a study of the viability of developing a natural gas field in the Sheberghan region in northern Afghanistan.

For more than a year, McClatchy has pressed the U.S. government to offer its honest assessment of the projects for a series of stories about U.S. contractors in Afghanistan. But the U.S. Agency for International Development, the main agency overseeing the projects, has declined to describe its own doubts about the company or its work.

It turns out that USAID in 2008 and 2009 gave the company unsatisfactory ratings on the quality of work, its management and its adherence to a schedule on the gas study. The agency also gave the company a "poor" rating for the quality of its service and an "unsatisfactory" rating for its construction schedule for the power plant.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan is holding a hearing Monday where company officials and other contractors will testify.

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