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DOD promises to rein in contracting waste

WASHINGTON – Defense Department officials late Wednesday acknowledged “serious issues” behind a new report to Congress detailing up to $60 billion in wasted contracting funds, and said efforts have already begun to address those problems.

The 240-page report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting estimates that U.S. taxpayers have lost as much as $12 million a day since the start of the war in Afghanistan, and chronicles dozens of contracts where millions were lost to fraud or incompetence.

In a statement to the media, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said the Defense Department has already implemented several changes to improve contingency contracting in response to the problem, including increased staffing for contract oversight, establishing a Joint Theater Support Contracting Command at the U.S. Central Command, writing new planning requirements for future contracting work and increasing competition on existing contracts.

But he also acknowledged that more work still needs to be done.

“We are supportive of efforts to reduce waste and improve on the value we obtain for the dollars we spend in support of contingency operations,” he said. “Monitoring, assessing and taking corrective action is a continuous process within the department, and we continually improve our planning, oversight and the management of contractors on the battlefield.”

In their press conference Wednesday, commission members said that while they have seen improvements in recent years in defense efforts to limit contracting waste, mistakes made years ago with contracts in Iraq are often repeated in Afghanistan, costing taxpayers again.

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