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Ear to the Ground

U.S. Wasted $30 Billion on Contractors

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Posted on Aug 29, 2011
james.gordon6108 (CC-BY)

Construction workers in Iraq organize sewage pipes in this 2006 photo.

By an estimate its co-chairs call conservative, the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting has found that the government wasted $30 billion on the use of private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The co-chairs, writing in The Washington Post, say that number could double.

The main culprits, according to former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays and Michael Thibault, a former deputy director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, are “poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak interagency coordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees.”

The chairs said additional waste could stem from massive projects that the Iraqi and Afghan governments are unable to support, such as a $300 million Kabul power facility “that requires funding and technical expertise beyond the Afghan government’s capabilities.”  —PZS

Christopher Shays and Michael Thibault in The Washington Post:

Poor planning, federal understaffing and over-reliance led to billions of dollars of contracts awarded without effective competition, legions of foreign subcontractors not subject to U.S. laws, private security guards performing tasks that can easily escalate into combat, unprosecuted instances of apparent fraud, and projects that are unlikely to be sustained by the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Projects that are or may be unsustainable are a serious problem. For instance, U.S. taxpayers spent $40 million on a prison that Iraq did not want and that was never finished. U.S. taxpayers poured $300 million into a Kabul power plant that requires funding and technical expertise beyond the Afghan government’s capabilities. Meanwhile, a federal official testified to the commission that an $11.4 billion program of facilities for the Afghan National Security Forces is “at risk” of unsustainability.

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By grokker, August 29, 2011 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

30 billion? This has to be a joke, right? 30 billion represents the amount of money that fell on the ground and blew away in the wind. Chump change.

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By prisnersdilema, August 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment

Is this really a surprise to anyone?

Our government has never been more corupt…

Nothing will happen, nothing will be done…

But they will spend many long months, figuring out how to swindle the people of this country out of their social security…

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By Cliff Carson, August 29, 2011 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

Thirty Billion?

Absolute BS!  One single Contractor Company got around 25 times that in Iraq ALONE.  This report is a “spin” to reduce what actually happened.

The amount of money wasted on Contractors is closer to $2 Trillion.  I shouldn’t have used the word wasted.  The correct word is “embezzled” from the U S Taxpayer who footed the bill.

The Corporations are in the business of War.  Create a need or excuse for a war, demonize the target, get the American Public all fired up about those no good evil people over there, play some patriotic music and march off to “undeclared” war.  Keep it going as long as possible.  Who cares how many die and are maimed for life.  The Corporate bottom line is God here in America.

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By Marshall K, August 29, 2011 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

My brother was a contract mechanic for years starting
in the early years in Afghanistan, then Iraq, and
finally in Kuwait.  His stories of waste and
incompetence were mind boggling.  The out and out
fraud and corruption, at all levels was even worse. 
Mechanics and supervisors were getting cash envelopes
each month with thousands of dollars each for faking
work orders.  This was on top of his making a salary
well over $100,000 a year, plus room and board and
all expenses.
Many of the contract jobs are filled by non
Americans, such as Philippine cooks and Indian
janitors.  Many of the subcontractors are also
foreign companies.
Prior to the Bush/Cheney invasions, the work of
mechanic, driver, cook, and all of the other support
jobs were filled by soldiers, sailors and air
personnel.  The cost per worker/soldier would be much
lower than the salaried paid now.  Of course, the
only way those numbers could be filled today would be
by reinstating a draft, which would soon create an
outcry among the populace and an end to these insane
wars.

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