U.S. soldiers, rather than private contractors, provide security during this operation in Baghdad in 2007.
A three-year study by a nonpartisan panel reported Wednesday that the U.S. wasted between $31 billion and $60 billion, or about $12 million every day, on wartime contracts for services in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting said that the government and the contractors involved are to blame for the excessive fraud and waste. The panel, in an attempt to correct such expensive misuse of U.S. taxpayer money, issued 15 recommendations. They include hiring more auditors and analysts to make sure the government gets what it pays for as well as relying less on private security contractors and more on U.S. military. —BF
Without contract reform and better oversight, future prospects look just as ominous, the panel members warned, as the U.S. considers a role rebuilding Libya in a post-Gadhafi time frame.
Dov Zakheim, a former comptroller at the Defense Department, said he believes the misdirected money is closer to $60 billion, not the low end of the range the panel itself has estimated.
“We also have to think about projects that we start, but are not sure can be finished or sustained,” he said. “What is the point of spending hundreds of millions on projects that will then fall into disuse?” he asked, saying the choice then becomes writing off the investment, or “spending taxpayer money for God knows how long, in order to keep the projects going.”