By ANDRE FRANCISCO
U.S. soldiers are leaving Iraq, but as many as 18,000 contractors are staying behind to run and protect the Green Zone, the world's largest embassy complex. The contractors are being overseen by the State Department, which does not have a good history of contract oversight. POGO Investigator Jake Wiens lays out some of POGO's worries in the video above, and POGO Senior Writer Beth Schulman's op-ed on Other Words delves into the possibility of coming problems with contractors in Iraq.
If the past is prologue, we should be nervous. The State Department's track record managing overseas contractors ranges from spotty to downright awful. As Americans focus more on the 2012 elections and other domestic concerns, it would be far too easy to ignore the glaring need for oversight in Iraq.
A bipartisan study by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan found that the U.S. government did a terrible job of managing private contractors in conflict zones. "At least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to contract waste and fraud in America's contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," the commission reported to Congress last fall. "Much more will turn into waste as attention to continuing operations wanes, as U.S. support for projects and programs in Iraq and Afghanistan declines, and as those efforts are revealed as unsustainable."
POGO will continue to closely watch both the contractors and those who oversee them to highlight problems that arise.
Andre Francisco is POGO's Online Producer