Out go all the U.S. troops by year’s end, President Obama said Friday about Iraq. And in go the contractors, along with some familiar contracting problems, say other government officials and independent experts.
As the United States pulls out its remaining 50,000 or so troops after a decade of conflict costing around $1 trillion, many of the soldiers’ non-fighting functions will be pursued by a force of State Department-funded government contractors expected to near 15,000.
That preliminary estimate, now being circulated by the administration among lawmakers on Capitol Hill, would represent an overwhelming share of the official remaining U.S. presence in the unsettled country. But even after wide publicity about past contracting abuses and waste, new scandals may trail behind this persistent deployment, according to a commission created by Congress to study the missteps so far.
“After a decade of war, the government remains unable to ensure that taxpayers and warfighters are getting good value for contract dollars spent,” Dov S. Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller and a member of the congressionally-created Commission on Wartime Contracting, told the Senate Armed Services committee a day before Obama’s announcement.
In an August report, prepared after a three-year study of contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the commission estimated that between $30 billion and $60 billion has been lost to waste and fraud so far in those conflicts, representing 15 to 30 percent of all that Washington has spent on contractor-provided security, civil reconstruction, training, and other nation-building work. Read Full Article