By NEIL GORDON
At least one out of every six dollars spent by U.S. taxpayers on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade--more than $30 billion--has been wasted.
That, and the fact that the government over-relies on contractors for contingency operations, are the key findings in the final report issued today by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan (CWC). The eight-member, bipartisan, congressionally chartered commission filed the 240-page report with the House and Senate this morning.
Taxpayers have spent a total of $206 billion on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than $40 billion of this was awarded to KBR. KBR and 21 other companies accounted for more than half of the total. An additional $38.5 billion went to “miscellaneous foreign contractors,” demonstrating once again the difficulty of compiling reliable, accurate contract spending data in those countries. The CWC estimates that waste and fraud have amounted to at least $31 billion and possibly as much as $60 billion (about $12 million every day for the past 10 years) and warns that we may be at risk of losing an equal amount of money if the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan are unable or unwilling to sustain U.S.-funded projects after we leave.
According to the report, fraud and waste stems from a variety of shortcomings equally attributable to both the government and contractors: poor planning, vague and shifting contract 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. “There are many causes,” the CWC announced in a press release accompanying the report, “and no simple solution.”