CWC's Final Report: Make Investments in Contracting Oversight

On Aug. 31, the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) released its final report to Congress, detailing contracting issues in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although most media outlets focused on the sensational estimates of funds lost through waste and fraud over the course of the wars – possibly totaling $60 billion – the report makes a much broader and compelling argument for systemic contracting reforms and better contractor oversight. With the current atmosphere of austerity on Capitol Hill, Congress should heed these recommendations.

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Commission on Wartime Contracting: Iraq Contracting Disaster Looming

On June 6, the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) held a hearing to examine the Department of State's (State) continued preparations for taking control of operations in Iraq from the Department of Defense (DOD). In the past, the CWC has been less than sanguine about State's ability to run contingency operations in Iraq and has chided the agency for slow-walking reforms, especially in relation to contract oversight.

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Would McCaskill's Contingency Contracting IG be Worth It?

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

At a Senate Armed Services hearing last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) urged officials from the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish a permanent inspector general office for contingency contracting. If the billions wasted through our rebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan – which, by the way, are likely to be the kinds of wars we are going to fight into the indefinite future – is any measure, it seems a permanent IG might be worth the investment.

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Bad Idea: Stand up a Private Army in Iraq to Take the Place of Departing U.S. Forces

Oh boy, this could get ugly

The pullout of the final U.S. combat brigade from Iraq last week was the penultimate step in the military's withdrawal from the country at the end of 2011. At that time, the State Department, utilizing a large number of private security contractors (PSC), will take responsibility for performing many of the tasks the Department of Defense (DOD) has been carrying out. Problem is, State isn't very good at overseeing contractors.

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Iraq and Afghanistan Get an Extra Dose of Oversight

An Army of One

The folks over at Government have the scoop on the Commission on Wartime Contracting's (CWC) recent move to open two field offices in Southwest Asia. The Iraq office, which is currently staffed by one expert and awaiting a second, is located in central Baghdad. Two experts staff the Afghanistan office, located at Bagram Air Field, which is roughly 25 miles outside the capital of Kabul.

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New DOD Contracting Rule Aims at Flawed Business Systems

An Old Accounting System

A proposed rule published in the most recent edition of the Federal Register takes aim at Department of Defense (DOD) contractors with deficient business systems. The rule, which seeks to reduce "the risk of unallowable and unreasonable costs on Government contracts," would allow contracting officers to withhold a percentage of payments from contractors with deficiencies in specific business systems.

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Blackwater/Xe, the Company You Can't Get Rid of

Blackwater, Go Home

Yesterday, Justin Elliot at Talking Points Memo published an interesting piece on the never-ending saga that is the government's relationship with the company formerly known as Blackwater. Despite the scandals, investigations and indictments that have recently plagued Xe – and the resultant loss of a license to operate in Iraq and the cancellation of several security contracts overseas – the company continues to perform work for the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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State Dept Continues to Fail at Contractor Oversight

Mediocrity is a Sin

The contracting boondoggle that is the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq came into full focus last week with the State Department's release of an Inspector General's audit of the compound. We already knew that construction of the fortress-like embassy, which is the largest on the planet and ten times bigger than any other US embassy, was riddled with the big WF&B (waste, fraud and abuse), but the sheer scale of corruption and ineptitude detailed in the report brings back into question the State Department's ability to oversee contractors.

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Asleep on the Job: Where are the Consequences for Contractor Misconduct?

Asleep on the Job

In what may be the next big defense contracting scandal, an Associated Press story released this morning relates some troubling findings from a recent investigation. AP reporters uncovered serious flaws with the U.S. Army's $2.7 billion contract with Combat Support Associates (CSA), a contractor tasked with supporting U.S. troops at bases throughout Kuwait. After months of bad press and congressional hearings into the defense contracting industry, you would think this investigation might provide just that little extra momentum for Congress or the federal government to clean up this mess, but don't count on it.

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Wartime Contracting Commission: DOD Must Improve Oversight of Contractor Business Systems

The Pentagon

As pointed out this afternoon by the Project on Government Oversight's (POGO) Scott Amey, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan released a special report yesterday summarizing their review of inadequate contractor business systems. The report follows up on work the commission did over the summer when it held a hearing on contractors' deficient internal control systems. Based on testimony and evidence from the hearing, the special report lays out five recommendations for the Department of Defense (DOD) to improve oversight of and encourage better business systems from contractors.

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