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Thursday, June 11, 2009

U.S. War Privatization Results in Billions Lost in Fraud, Waste and Abuse--Report

By Jeremy Scahill
Half of the personnel the US has working on its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are private contractors. A new report reveals how much of a rip-off this system has been to US taxpayers.
June 10, 2009 "RebelReports" -- At a hearing in Washington today, the federal Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan is releasing a 111-page report that represents its “initial investigations of the nation’s heavy reliance on contractors.” According to a release on the hearing:
More than 240,000 contractor employees, about 80 percent of them foreign nationals, are working in Iraq and Afghanistan to support operations and projects of the U.S. military, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Contractor employees outnumber U.S. troops in the region. While contractors provide vital services, the Commission believes their use has also entailed billions of dollars lost to waste, fraud, and abuse due to inadequate planning, poor contract drafting, limited competition, understaffed oversight functions, and other problems.
These statistics support a recent DoD report on the extent of the US reliance on contractors. That report also found that there has been a 23% increase in the number of “Private Security Contractors” working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which “correlates to the build up of forces” in the country. In Iraq, the Pentagon attributes the increase to better accounting. There are currently more private contractors (counting both armed and unarmed) in Afghanistan (68,197) than US troops (40,000). In Iraq, the number of contractors (132,610) is basically equal to the number of US troops.
(NOTE: I recently discussed this issue on Bill Moyers Journal)
The single greatest beneficiary of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is KBR, the former Halliburton subsidiary. KBR has been paid nearly $32 billion since 2001. In May, April Stephenson, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, testified that KBR was linked to “the vast majority” of war-zone fraud cases and a majority of the $13 billion in “questioned” or “unsupported” costs. According to Agency, it sent the inspector general “a total of 32 cases of suspected overbilling, bribery and other violations since 2004.”
According to the Associated Press, which obtained an early copy of the commission’s report, “billions of dollars” of the total paid to KBR “ended up wasted due to poorly defined work orders, inadequate oversight and contractor inefficiencies.” LinkHere


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