The first audit released by US Congressional Commission of Wartime Contracting reveals that the military has wasted huge sums of its USD 834b budget on contractors.
The 121-page report on security, logistics and renovation contracts indicates that the US government has failed to oversee the defense expenditures it disbursed to key contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report refers to large-scale cases of fraud and mismanagement of contracts during the so-called ‘war on terror’, which have cost American taxpayers ‘billions’ of dollars.
Michael Thibault, co-Chairperson of the investigating panel told the Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs on Wednesday that “the disturbing implications go far beyond questions of good management and financial responsibility.”
“They directly involve our nation’s ability to achieve policy objectives and provide proper support and protection for our war fighters and civilian employees engaged in contingency operations.”
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The congressional body records say that over 70 percent of the deals in Iraq have been granted to subcontractors who employ cheap international labor force.
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The move obliterates efforts aimed at clarifying the military’s spending, said the commission’s co-chairperson Christopher Shays — a former Republican congressman from Connecticut.
“We don’t have enough people watching the contractors,” he noted.
The report adds that the US military spent over 30 million dollars on building a single ‘dining facility at Camp Delta’ in Baghdad, which is to be completed in December 2009. By that time most US troops will have left the country according to an interim US-Iraqi security pact.
The panel registers more instances of irresponsible military spending in Afghanistan including a case in which the Army Corps of Engineers endorsed the construction of a multimillion-dollar project in order to serve as US command center. But the commission reported that many of the headquarters’ equipment had gone missing.
The auditor’s assessment drew the ire of US legislators, with some blasting the poor administrative oversight and misuse of public funds.
Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Stephen Lynch said, upon hearing the commission account, that “it’s only happening because it’s taxpayers’ dollars.”
“We can’t continue to operate this way in terms of contracts going out without proper accountability standards,” he went on to say.
Hundreds of US contractors have employed over 240,000 workers — most of them foreign nationals — in Iraq in an attempt to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and overhaul its security issues.
The report goes on to say that over 600,000 property items are currently held in US army HQs without proper documentation and maintenance.
Critics allege that the US government under President Barack Obama has done little to curb the fraudulent behavior of army contractors.