Friday, September 2, 2011

Commission on Wartime Contracting Issues Final Report

The Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) was created in 2008 to study (i) the extent of reliance on contractors for logistics, security, and reconstruction operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, (ii) determining the amount of waste, fraud, and abuse in those theaters, (iii) assessing the extent to which offenders have been held accountable, (iv) examining the appropriateness of policies and practices for managing contracts, and (iv) recommending improvements. The commission, during its three-year tenure, held 25 formal hearings, participated in more than 1,000 meetings, made repeated fact-finding trips to theater, and maintained liaison offices in Baghdad and Kabul. It published two interim reports and five special reports to congress. This week (August 31, 2011) the committee issued its final report.

The final report found that $31 billion (and possibly as much as $60 billion) has been lost to contract waste and fraud and concluded that major reforms are required. The report spreads blame for the waste and fraud to just about everyone. The executive summary states:

Much of the contingency-contract waste and fraud could have been avoided. Unless changes are made, continued waste and fraud will undercut the effectiveness of money spent in future operations, whether they involve hostile threats overseas or national emergencies here at home requiring military participation and interagency response. Responsibility for the state of affairs lies with Congress, the White House, federal departments, the military services, agency leadership, contractors, and individuals who abuse the system.

The final report is divided into eight chapters and contains 15 recommendations to Congress. Chapter headings include:

  1. Agencies over-rely on contractors for contingency operations
  2. Inherently governmental rules do not guide appropriate use of contractors in contingencies
  3. Inattention to contingency contracting leads to massive waste, fraud, and abuse
  4. Looming sustainment costs risk massive new waste
  5. Agencies have not institutionalized contracting as a core function
  6. Agency structures and authorities prevent effective coordination
  7. Contract competition, management, and enforcement are ineffective
  8. The way forward demands major reforms

The Commission's final report can be read or downloaded here.

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