Speaking before the lawsuit was filed and without knowledge of it, Shays said if a company under contract to provide embassy security systematically asked employees to misrepresent their hours worked, that company should be replaced, and if individuals within the company gave such directions, they should be fired.
Through a spokesman, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), a key watchdog of diplomatic security in her role as chairman of a Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight, called the allegations in POGO's report "disturbing."
"Years after hearings I chaired highlighted problems at the Embassy in Kabul, the State Department's management and oversight of private security contractors is still woefully inadequate," she said in a statement. "I plan to have a serious conversation -- one that includes Senator Kerry -- about what kinds of changes need to be made to ensure that our embassy personnel are protected," she added.
In interviews and written communications with POGO, people who have served on the embassy guard force in Kabul said problems persisted there even after the deadly attack in Benghazi put diplomatic security in the spotlight.
Last July, dozens of guards signed a petition submitted to Aegis and the State Department expressing a vote of no confidence in three guard force leaders. Soon after that, two guards who helped organize the petition were fired in what they said was retaliation for their whistleblowing.
A July 18, 2012 State Department memo obtained by POGO appeared to allude to the guards' protest when it said a "mutiny" within the protective force "put the security of the Embassy at risk." The memo, which called the mutiny "baseless," did not mention the petition explicitly.
Spokesmen for Aegis and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit today.
Aegis declined to answer questions for the POGO report published last week. "Per our contractual obligations, all questions and inquiries regarding this contract should be directed to the Department of State's Public Affairs Office," company spokesman Joshua C. Huminski wrote.
The State Department last week told POGO that "no guard is scheduled to work more than 12 hours per shift."
"[S]ome contract personnel were required to work additional days, partly due to the need for intensive in-service training," the department said in a written response to questions.
"Through Government oversight, contract adjustments, and Aegis' adherence to contract requirements, the number of hours and days the guards worked were limited to contract requirements, and the Department maintained its primary objective of ensuring the safety and security of the Embassy," the department said.
The State Department denied that it sought the removal of any contract workers for raising concerns and said individuals had been removed "for other reasons."
A senior State Department official testified last month that after the killings in Benghazi the government sent teams to assess security at 19 posts in 13 countries. The department later told POGO that the teams were not sent to the embassy in Kabul.
"[D]ue to its location in a non-permissive environment," the department said, security was already heightened there and "it was determined that the inter-agency assessment teams would be best utilized at other locations."
Brooke Sammon, a spokeswoman for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that in the wake of the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities last September, "it is essential that the State Department review the security of all posts overseas, particularly those we know are in dangerous parts of the world."