Hundreds of nontactical vehicles in Iraq could not be accounted for on paper during an audit of contracting records, according to a Defense Department Inspector General’s report released last week.

The audit reviewed a sample of vehicle contracts held by Multi-National Forces—Iraq and its operational arm, Multi-National Corps—Iraq, between 2005 and 2008.

In all, the report estimated 74 percent of the nontactical vehicles, such sedans, trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles bought or leased through the Government Services Administration were not properly accounted for.

Of those, about 10 percent, or 531 vehicles, “were not accounted for at all,” according to the 36-page report, released Nov. 20. The vehicles cost $11.4 million to acquire and $5.3 million each year for leasing fees, maintenance and repair, the report says.

Officials don’t know that these vehicles are actually missing. They couldn’t be accounted for on paper when the records were reviewed by the audit team, said Timothy Wimette, from the DOD Inspector General’s office.

The audit found improperly recorded vehicle identification numbers, unrecorded mileage and duplicate vehicle records. In most of the records that were reviewed, no contracting officer representative was appointed to oversee purchase or leasing agreements, which is required by federal regulations.

Auditors found only 15 percent of vehicle contracts included documentation showing vehicles complied with contract requirements.

The lack of centralized control over nontactical vehicles resulted in inflated leasing costs. Instead of negotiating for vehicles in bulk, the military had multiple local contracts, the report said. The report also noted more could have been done to compare the costs of leasing versus buying vehicles.

“The lack of reliable information significantly hinders command decisions regarding the management of NTVs, specifically in regard to the drawdown in Iraq,” the report noted.

In response to the audit, MNF—I appointed a central nontactical vehicle program manager, and in August, MNF—C ordered local managers to account for every vehicle in their area, the report stated.

Acquisition officials from MNF—I were unavailable to comment on the current status of the vehicles, but a spokesman said in an e-mail “[I]t is now late 2009, almost 2010, and a lot of hard work and progress has taken place since this report.”

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