Many Translators in Afghanistan Can't Speak the Languages
Ex-employee says contractor fudged exam results to boost profits
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2010 5:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – The contractor that supplies the military with Afghan translators is putting American lives at risk by sending out unqualified translators, a former employee charges. Paul Funk—who used to oversee the screening of Afghan linguists for Mission Essential Personnel—tells ABC News that the company inflated grades and tolerated cheating on exams to hit staffing targets. He says some 28% of translators sent out by the company between November 2007 and June 2008 failed to meet the required standard of proficiency.

Funk, who has filed a whistleblower lawsuit, says he complained to the company about "corrupt" practices, including candidates who had stand-ins take over-the-phone exams in order to secure jobs that pay upwards of $200,000. Military personnel and embedded journalists say they have witnessed unacceptably poor translators working in Afghanistan. The company rejects Funk's accusations and says it will answer them in court. The US military has confirmed that the company, which holds contracts worth up to $1.4 billion, is under investigation.