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US has wasted $30bn on Iraq and Afghanistan contracts, report finds

Posted by The Agonist on August 30th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Peter Walker | Aug 30

The GuardianUS has wasted $30bn on Iraq and Afghanistan contracts, report finds
Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan says change needed to avoid similar waste in future

The US government has wasted more than $30bn (£18.3bn) on private contractors and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade – more than 15% of the total spend – according to a bipartisan group charged with examining the issue.

The figure, described as “sobering but conservative”, illustrated the need for significant law and policy changes to avoid such waste in the future, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan said.

The body, set up by a Senate vote in 2007 to mimic the work of a post-second world war commission that investigated waste, will submit its report to Congress on Wednesday.

However, some details of its findings were revealed by the co-chairs of the eight-member commission, writing in the Washington Post.

At least another $30bn could be wasted if the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan are unable to keep US-run projects running after the US withdraws or simply choose not to do so, Christopher Shays, an ex-Republican congressman, and Michael Thibault, a former deputy director of the Defence Contract Audit Agency, wrote.

“Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted through poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak inter-agency co-ordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees. Both government and contractors need to do better,” they said.

Examples of waste in the report included $40m of US money to finance a prison Iraq did not want and that was not completed, and more than $300m on a power plant in Kabul “that requires funding and technical expertise beyond the Afghan government’s capabilities”.

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