A Congressional investigation established in the last year of the Bush/Cheney administration finaly ended today. It was charged to study wartime contracting, contracting for the reconstruction, logistical support of coalition forces, and the performance of security functions, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Commission was required to assess the extent of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of wartime contracts. The Commission held hearings and had the authority to refer to the Attorney General any violation or potential violation of law it identifies in carrying out its duties.
The panel spent $25 million and unearthed between $31 billion and $60 billion of waste and fraud in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - possibly ongoing fraud - ended today and its documents and records will be sealed from the US public until 2031.
Wartime Contracting Commission releases final report to Congress
Pegs waste, fraud in Iraq, Afghanistan at >$30 billion
Sees threat of more waste in unsustainable projects
Faults both government officials and contractors
Offers 15 recommendations for contracting reform
The report estimated that at least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to waste and fraud from the $206 billion spent on contracts and grants since U.S. contingency operations began in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003—and that a similar amount could be lost due to unsustainable projects and programs.
The Commission said most of the loss was due to waste, and blamed both government and contractors for the many problems described in its reports. Identified causes of waste include poor planning, imprecise contract requirements, lack of competition, unnecessary purchases or overpayments, inadequate contract management and oversight, unsustainable projects, poor performance, weak enforcement, and a long-standing shortage of federal acquisition personnel.
The final report offered 15 strategic recommendations for contracting reform. The Commission’s co-chairs said some of the report’s recommendations are already gaining traction on Capitol Hill, but cautioned that correcting years of neglect and inadequate practices will require an aggressive, long-term effort.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan was established by Congress in 2008 and spent three years probing more than $206 billion the U.S. government spent on contracts and grants during a decade of conflict.Did the Commission refer to the Attorney General any violations or potential violations of law as it was authorized to do?
...the panel estimated that the U.S. had wasted or misspent between $31 billion and $60 billion contracting for services in Iraq and Afghanistan, a finding that spurred calls from lawmakers for reform and better oversight.
The panel ...said the commission's records will remain sealed at the National Archives in Washington for 20 years. "There is sensitive information there," he said.
Investigative commissions, Mr. Irwin said, "have some latitude" in deciding how long to keep records under seal, because the commission's records included proprietary company information, attorney work products and classified documents. Some of the data that informed the commission's estimates of fraud and waste, Mr. Irwin added, were "the result of forensic auditing that is still going on in theater, so we did not identify the source."
By contrast, the commission established by Congress in late 2002 to investigate the events leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, sealed its records for five years...
...some witnesses in public hearings provided written answers to questions raised by commissioners that would be of interest to journalists, watchdog groups or the public.
The commission, the person said, "should have made an effort to declassify them."
Hopefully the Department of Justice has access to the evidence of fraud and will prosecute. Especially since the report says that the abuse may be ongoing. However, an initial review of the report does not indicate any hand off to the DOJ.
Christopher Shays, Co-Chair, former...U.S. Representative, Connecticut;
Michael J. Thibault, Co-Chair, former Deputy Director, Defense Contract Audit Agency;
Clark Kent Ervin, former Inspector General, Departments of State and Homeland Security;
Grant S. Green, former Under Secretary of State for Management;
Robert J. Henke, former Assistant Secretary, Management, Department of Veterans Affairs;
Katherine V. Schinasi, former Managing Director for Acquisition and Sourcing Management, U.S. [GAO];