By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2011 – The Defense Department is working to ensure contracting in war zones is done effectively and the money goes to the right people, a Pentagon spokesman saidï¿½here today.
In its final report to Congress delivered today, the nonpartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan said at least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost in contract waste and fraud in U.S. contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said Defense Department officials share the commission's commitment to improving wartime contracting.
"In particular, we commend the commission for shining a spotlight on the risks of over-reliance on contractors, on the need to strengthen the contracting function at the agencies, on the value of increasing competition in contracting and on the importance of holding contractors accountable for their performance," he said.
The Defense Department already is working on many of the lessons learned from experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lapan noted. "We have already implemented a number of steps to improve contingency contracting based on the department's own analysis, as well as recommendations from the independent reviews of the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general and the commission's previous publications and interim reports," he said.
DOD officials are monitoring, assessing and taking corrective action as part of a continuous improvement process, Lapan added.
For example, he said, the department is investigating and prosecuting those engaged in fraud. DOD has also increased the number of federal employees and military personnel overseeing the contracting process, adding more military personnel in the acquisition corps and increasing the number of contracting officer representatives.
The department also has invested in better training for deployed military personnel supervising and interacting with contractors, Lapan said. In addition, U.S. Central Command now has a Joint Theater Support Contracting Command, and Joint Staff and DOD officials are establishing policy and planning requirements for operational contractor support in future contingencies.
DOD also is focusing on project sustainability, Lapan said. The commission was highly critical of some projects that the Afghan government couldn't possibly sustain.
Competition is the key to good contracting, Lapan said, and the department is looking to increase competition in contingency contracting by competing a new Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contract and qualifying more vendors to stimulate competition for task orders throughout the contract's life.
The department has worked since 2009 to strengthen the overall acquisition workforce, Lapan said, both in numbers and education. The Defense Department has created and filled 9,000 new acquisition workforce positions, he added, strengthening the contracting workforce and contributing to rebuilding the Defense Contract Management and Defense Contract Audit Agency.
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans