Since 2002, the United States has spent $117 billion on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to a new report by the non-partisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, tens of billions of those dollars have been wasted.
The report's authors note that the "waste, fraud, and abuse" they have observed in these contract programs were caused by significant errors. A few of their points, quoted from the report:
-An ill-conceived project, no matter how well-managed, is wasteful if it does not fit the cultural, political and economic mores of the society it is meant to serve, or if it cannot be supported and maintained.
-Poor planning and oversight by the US government, as well as poor performance on the part of contractors, have costly outcomes: time and money misspent are lost for other purposes.
-Criminal behavior and blatant corruption sap dollars from what could otherwise be successful project outcomes and, more disturbingly, contribute to a climate in which huge amounts of waste are accepted as the norm.
The U.S. has relied on contractors more heavily in these two wars than in previous others, hiring about 200,000 of them to "guard bases, build facilities, provide food and laundry services, escort supply and personnel movements, and translate local languages," according to Susan Crabtree at Talking Points Memo. She points out that there are almost as many contracted employees working in Afghanistan and Iraq as there are military troops.
The commission that put out the report is urging the government to reform its contracting programs and is holding a hearing to review the report's findings today.