Commission details war-time waste ahead of report to Congress

An Afghan policeman looks at weapons confiscated from contracted private security companies, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan.


By Published: August 29, 2011

At least one in every six dollars of U.S. spending for contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade has been wasted, according to the co-chairmen of the bipartisan federal Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s about $30 billion, according to the Christopher Shays, a former Republican congressman from Connecticut, and Mark Thibault, a former deputy director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, who highlighted some of the commission’s findings in an op-ed in The Washington Post Sunday.

The commission will submit its full report -- among many government reports on the problem -- to Congress on Wednesday.

All eight commissioners agree that major changes in law and policy are needed to avoid confusion and waste in the next contingency, whether it involves armed struggle overseas or response to disasters at home, Shays and Thibault wrote.

“Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted through poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak interagency coordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees,” the men wrote. “Both government and contractors need to do better.”

The commission’s report supports 15 strategic recommendations to improve contingency contracting including:

●Designating a “dual-hatted” official to serve in the Office of Management and Budget and to participate in National Security Council meetings to oversee contracts and grants.

● Creating a permanent inspector general for contingency operations so that investigative personnel are ready to deploy at the outset of a contingency, and to monitor preparedness and training between contingencies.

These and other recommendations will soon be detailed in the commission’s final report, www.wartimecontracting.gov.

Read the entire op-ed piece by Shays and Thibault in The Washington Post