Billions in Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Defense Contracts

It turns out that scattering cash into the wind would have been more efficient than the U.S. system for awarding reconstruction contracts during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A two-year inquiry by a congressionally created panel finds that at least 15 percent of the $206 billion-with-a-B spent on wartime contracts thus far has been lost to waste, fraud and abuse. That very conservative estimate is likely to grow — and it amounts to an indictment not just of wartime contracts, but the wars themselves.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting (.pdf) concludes that “vast amounts” of contract money in Iraq and Afghanistan provided “little or no benefit” to the war efforts. The commission confirmed $31 billion in contractor cash lost to corruption or dysfunction. But it warned that the true figure could be as high as $60 billion, or “$12 million every day for the past 10 years.”

And even that massive figure — almost 30 percent of all wartime contract dollars — isn’t the whole story. Iraq and Afghanistan remain riddled with corruption. That corruption endangers all the “apparently well-designed projects and programs” that the U.S. has launched in both countries. Untold “billions of dollars” are liable to “turn into waste” in the future, says the report, “if the host governments cannot or will not commit the funds, staff, and expertise to operate and maintain them” — especially money spent on the Afghan military and on Iraqi healthcare centers.

How did wartime contracting turn into a sludge of waste and fraud? It’s not just the Pentagon’s sole-source contracting jones, which Sharon Weinberger has shone a spotlight onto all week long here at Danger Room. (The commission does, however, write that the U.S. has “awarded task orders for excessive durations without adequate competition.”) It’s also the sheer ignorance of U.S. war planners.

Read the full story at  U.S. Wasted at Least $31 Billion in War Contracts | Danger Room | Wired.com.

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