Global Policy Forum

US "Failing" to Oversee Contractors

By Al Jazeera and agencies

June 11, 2009

The US military has failed to provide adequate oversight for tens of billions of dollars paid to private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, a congressional report has said. The US government also has no central record of who the contractors are, what they do or how much they are paid, according to the Wartime Contracting Commission report. "In short, the environment in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to be a place for waste, fraud and abuse," Michael Thibault, the co-chair of the commission, told the House Oversight and Government Reform's national security subcommittee on Wednesday. The US military's dependence on private sector employees has now grown to "unprecedented proportions," the report added.

Controversial projects

The commission said more than 240,000 private sector employees are supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and more work for the US state department and the US Agency for International Development. It highlighted a string of controversial projects, including the construction of a $30m dining facility at a US base in Iraq that is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year but is unlikely to be used. A new building set to become the headquarters for US forces in Afghanistan was reported to be full of cracks in the structure, broken and leaking pipes, sinking pavements and other defects. "The army should not have accepted a building in such condition," the report said.

KBR criticised

The commission also raised concerns over a massive support contract known as "LOGCAP" that provides troops with services including housing, meals, mail delivery and laundry. The report found that only 13 government employees worked in an office managing the services for both Afghanistan and Iraq. KBR Inc, the primary LOGCAP contractor in Iraq, has been paid nearly $32bn since 2001. The firm has defended its performance and criticised the commission for making "biased" statements against the company. "As we look back on what we've done, we're real proud of being able to go into a war theatre like that as a private contractor and support 200,000 troops," William Utt, the chairman of KBR, told the Associated Press news agency.


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