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10 Jun, 2009 08:54

Billions of dollars misappropriated in Iraq & Afghanistan

The US Department of Defense has failed to adequately manage tens of billions of dollars in contracts paid mainly to private companies supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's according to a report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the organization formed by Congress to investigate wartime spending.

Titled “At What Cost? Contingency Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan”, the 111-page report presents the interim findings of the commission.

“The environment in Iraq and Afghanistan has been and continues to be susceptible to waste, fraud, and abuse,” the report said.

One example of wasted money mentioned in the document is the construction of a 30 million dollar dining facility at an American base in Iraq which was supposed to be completed by the end of December 2009. Due to bad planning and poor fiscal management the project is still a long way from completion.

As far as Afghanistan is concerned, where President Obama has ordered a troops surge, hardly anyone knows the actual number of contractors, which of course creates additional obstacles to proper management. The report quotes, for instance, one commander who said he had no idea how many contractors worked on his base on a daily basis.

The report will be heard on Wednesday in Congress by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's national security and foreign affairs subcommittee.

“A broken contracting system amounts to a broken contract with the American people. The whole point of establishing the Commission on Wartime Contracting was to approach waste, fraud, and abuse from an independent perspective that transcends politics. Our Subcommittee hearing is designed to assess the Commission's progress to date, identify any unwarranted obstacles to its progress, and ensure that they are on the case,” The Washington Post quotes subcommittee Chairman John F. Tierney as saying.

The final report will be issued next year.