This week, the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting released its final report to Congress, which found that $30 to $60 billion has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. Legislation I introduced with Senator Claire McCaskill established the Commission in 2008 to restore public trust and save taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse. Modeled after the Truman Committee of World War II, the Commission investigated the government’s extensive reliance on civilian contractors to perform wartime-support, reconstruction, and private security functions.
This is the way that Congressional commissions should work. It was bi-partisan, high energy, and comprised of highly qualified people who were brought in for a specific period of time on this sunsetted commission and who will continue to maintain significant roles in the community now that the Commission has done its work.
As someone who spent five years in the Pentagon–one as a Marine and four as a defense executive–it was very clear to me that in the period when the overseas infrastructure and security programs were being put into place in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 there was something clearly wrong. There were good companies, as the Commission report has been careful to mention, who were doing a lot of good work. But, there were also a series of structural and leadership deficiencies in terms of many of these contracts that were being put into place.
In their report, the Commissioners have come up with fifteen specific recommendations on how we can reform the contracting process. These recommendations deserve to be listened to and, when appropriate, will be acted on by the United States Congress.
Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch story on the Commission’s findings: Webb’s Wartime Contracting commission says U.S. wasted up to $60 billion.
More information on the Commission on Wartime Contracting can be found here.