US Commission on Wartime Contracting: Correcting over-reliance on contractors in contingency operations

The Commission on Wartime Contracting concluded in its second interim report to Congress that the use of contractors has become a “default option,” pointing to the estimated $177 billion spent since 2001 on contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet vigorous oversight and management of contractors by the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development is too often “an administrative after-thought.” 

The new report from the independent, bipartisan commission, titled “At What Risk? Correcting Over-Reliance on Contractors in Contingency Operations,” concludes that the United States has wasted tens of billions of the nearly $200 billion that has been spent on contracts and grants since 2002 to support military, reconstruction, and other U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bipartisan commission is urging Congress to provide the agencies with more people and authority to control this industrial army, which at times has nearly equaled the size of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Unless Congress provides resources to oversee and evaluate contractor performance, waste will continue and national objectives will suffer.”  The investment “will be amply repaid in reduced waste and increased effectiveness” of war-zone contracting, it said.

Created by Congress in 2008, the eight-member commission has broad authority to examine wartime spending, including military support contracts, reconstruction projects and private security companies. The new report is the panel’s second interim study. A final report to Congress with recommendations for improving government contracting in war zones is due this summer.

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