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“Where is the Peace Dividend? Examining the Final Report to Congress of the Commission on Wartime Contracting”

Committee On Oversight & Government Reform

Chairman Darrell Issa – Preview Statement – October 4, 2011 – Today we welcome Congressman Christopher Shays – a former member of this committee, Mr. Michael Thibault, who co-chaired the commission’s work with Congressman Shays, and other members of the Commission on Wartime Contracting. In August, they released a final report with alarming findings about waste and abuse that occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the course of 2 years, the Commission has conducted 25 hearings, issued 5 Special Reports and 2 Interim reports. Its Final Report presents a sobering view of waste and fraud in the War on Terror. An estimated $1.25 trillion has been spent on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report estimates that since 2002, the Defense Department has spent $206 billion of this in contract obligations to support wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to contract waste and fraud. It is appropriate for the commission and congress to assess these costs and the reasons so much taxpayer money has been squandered to waste and fraud.

The waste and fraud associated with these expenditures is mind numbing. With the coming transition of operations from DoD to the State Department in Iraq, as well as the continuing surge of the civilian federal workforce in Afghanistan, costs associated with contractors are set to increase. For example, the State Department will increase its manpower from about 8,000 to 17,000 — the great majority of whom will be contractors for security, medical, maintenance, aviation, and other functions.

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Senators vow to continue work of expiring wartime contracting panel

(To watch the entire hearing click HERE)

Charles S. Clark – (GovExec) –  September 22, 2011 – Harry Truman “would be shocked,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told a Senate panel Wednesday during the final hearing on the expiring Wartime Contracting Commission that was modeled on World War II anti-corruption investigations led by the 33rd president.

Nearly one-third of the $206 billion that the United States has spent on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan could have been wasted, the commission reported in August, and senators fear the same mistakes will be repeated in future war zones.

“We must know why we are contracting, who we contract with, and what we are paying for a particular service or function,” McCaskill said. “It is just shameful that, despite the great work of the commission and the community of auditors and inspectors general who have reviewed these contracts, that we don’t know — and may not ever know — those simple things about the contracts awarded in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

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Wartime Contracting Commission releases final report to Congress

  • Pegs waste, fraud in Iraq, Afghanistan at >$30 billion
  • Sees threat of more waste in unsustainable projects
  • Faults both government officials and contractors
  • Offers 15 recommendations for contracting reform

Commissioners hear testimony at the May 4, 2009, hearing. Left to right: Dov Zakheim, Linda Gustitus, Robert Henke, Grant Green, Co-Chairman Michael Thibault, Charles Tiefer, Co-Chairman Christopher Shays, Clark Kent Ervin

(CWC Website) – ARLINGTON, VA, Aug. 31, 2011–The final report of the congressionally chartered Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan says at least $31 billion has been lost to contract waste and fraud, and that major reforms are required.

Commission reform objectives include improving federal planning for use of contracts, strengthening contract management and oversight, expanding competition, improving interagency coordination, and modifying or cancelling U.S.-funded projects that host nations cannot sustain. The reforms are described in 15 strategic recommendations.

The eight-member, bipartisan Commission filed its 240-page final report, “Transforming Wartime Contracting: Controlling Costs, Reducing Risks,” with U.S. Senate and House officials this morning. A briefing in the Capitol followed.

The Commission report notes that a consequence of 1990s reductions in the federal acquisition workforce and in support units within the military, the United States cannot conduct large or sustained contingency operations without heavy support from contractors. “Contingency” operations, as defined in federal law for the Department of Defense, are those involving military forces in actual or imminent hostilities, or in response to declared national emergencies. Civilian agencies use a similar definition.

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Reducing waste in wartime contracts

By Christopher Shays and Michael Thibault – (Washington Post) – August 28, 2011 – At least one in every six dollars of U.S. spending for contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, or more than $30 billion, has been wasted. And at least that much could again turn into waste if the host governments are unable or unwilling to sustain U.S.-funded projects after our involvement ends.

Those sobering but conservative numbers are a key finding of the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will submit its report 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.

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. Both government and contractors need to do better.

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CWC Commissioners give award winning performance at Hearing

One day after the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) held a their 20th hearing on wartime contracting. This hearing was entitled  “Ensuring contractor accountability: Past performance and suspensions and debarmements“.  I only wish there was an Academy Honor for the “Best Tough Guy”  on the CWC.  These Commissioners would certainly have my vote.   Perhaps a more appropriate honor would be a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence!  The Commissioners continue to show the country how bipartisan politics should work for the greater good of our country, not for personal petty ass partisan agendas.

Their tough as nails approach and ability to to ferret out the truth amongst the BS some witnesses attempt to baffle the Commission with is truly amazing and keeps the audience riveted.  Yes, I said riveted and when it comes to hearings and the day to day business of our government that is usually not the case. But the Commission accomplishes this with each hearing they conduct.

Yesterday’s hearing was no exception, several witnesses attempted to spend their time testifying about everything but the issues and trying their damnedest not to answer the questions.  I once heard someone describe this type of doublespeak as “spending all day talking about a broom but never getting to the handle.”  Our awarding winning cast on the Commission will have none of it and are quick to call these types to the carpet. These double-talkers are verbally dragged back on point squirming all the way.

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