Halliburton's $100 Load of Laundry


Senior Member.
One story used often to explain the outrageous cost of the Iraq war is the $100 fee charged by Halliburton for each bag of laundry they cleaned for American troops stationed there.



The book "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving In Iraq" by journalist Helen Benedict traces the story of women serving in Iraq. Here are some shocking stories from the book:

KBR charged soldiers $45 for a six-pack of Coke and $100 to wash a $3 load of laundry
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NBC News reported that a whistleblower named Marie DeYoung as one source of this allegation.

DeYoung produced documents detailing alleged waste even on routine services: $50,000 a month for soda, at $45 a case; $1 million a month to clean clothes — or $100 for each 15-pound bag of laundry.
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At points, the figure varies, but overcharging is the main theme


I heard a few of these same anecdotes when I was stationed in Iraq in 2006.

This story seems analogous to the “$400 hammer” story often heard back in the eighties.

There are some very good sources documenting waste and fraud. Reports by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction are available, for example.

Did the $100 bag of laundry actually exist?

No clue, but the idea is stuck between my teeth.



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Senior Member.
well, everyone fleeces the government so kinda sounds about right to me. Plus it says she produced documents proving it.
Pentagon documents obtained by NBC News support the whistleblowers' charges.
The company's response, according to deYoung was: "We can be as dumb and stupid as we want in the first year of a war, nobody’s going to care."
Halliburton also said the soda problem has been "corrected," and the laundry charges are being investigated, but insists it's "absolutely not true" the company is cavalier about taxpayer money

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But good luck finding a place even in the States that will do 15 lbs of laundry for 3$! Granted with bulk lbs you can get discounts. But where do you wash laundry in Iraq? Can you wash fatigues in a washing machine? How grimy are these clothes, how much does laundry detergent cost in Iraq? Are the laundry employees union, do they get full dental? :)

If the laundry issue was investigated.. did the price go down?


Senior Member.
Yeah, they almost certainly had to build the facility, import the machinery, and then you've got to pay your employees to be on the other side of the world in an active war zone - even without dental, that is NOT the minimum wage job that a laundry worker in the states might pull.

So, yeah, if you prorate that per unit of laundry, it's going to look like a lot, but in this kind of situation, the Pentagon's paying for a lot more than just the washing. Maybe $100 per bag is still excessive with all that, I don't know where it all went, but looking at it per unit of laundry is the wrong way to find waste.

Same applies to the soda, it's not $45 a case, it's $50,000 for the product, shipping, and local distribution with all the workers involved being in a war zone. You just can't compare it fairly to the $12.99 case you get at Wal Mart, there's a lot of additional costs.
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Senior Member.
So I followed up on this topic.

One of the original sources of the story appears to be from testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform in 2004.

From what I can gather, La Nouvelle, a KBR subsidiary received this particular contract for laundry services.

La Nouvelle has been in existence since 1997, providing services to multinationals ranging from Pizza Express to Starbucks in the Middle East. The U.S. Army hired originally hired the company directly to provide logistical support to thousands of Marines flying in from Twenty Nine Palms in California to hastily constructed Camp Coyote in Kuwait about 30 miles from the Iraqi border – known as "the tip of spear" in the March 2003 invasion.

Despite that standing agreement, La Nouvelle was then placed under the supervision of KBR, which signed dozens of small sub-contracts with La Nouvelle for the provision of "food services, laundry services, tents, generator power and equipment" to U.S. troops in Kuwait and Iraq.

Billing for these services took center stage last summer during several congressional hearings when former KBR contract manager Marie deYoung testified that a KBR laundry contract rocketed to as much as $1.2 million a month after it was agreed to pay La Nouvelle as much as $100 for every 15-pound bag of washing.
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Although KBR received payment for these services, it refused to pay La Nouvelle. The company eventually sued KBR.

The U.S. government also began legal action against KBR under Anti-Kickback Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 53 and 55 (now codified at 41 U.S.C. §§ 8702 and 8706) and the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729, according to legal documents available online.


So there it is. I feel somewhat better now.


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